CDC Issues Guidance for Masking in Health Care Settings


The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has issued revised guidance for Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic .

The guidance applies to all health care settings and provides a framework to implement select infection prevention and control practices based on their individual circumstances. Specifically, CDC added an appendix to assist facilities with how and when to implement broader use of  source control (masking).  CDC also announced that it will no longer be collecting information needed to track the community transmission rates of COVID-19.

There are several considerations that CDC addresses that will help guide when a broad use of masking in the healthcare settings should be implemented.

  • The types of patients cared for in their facility.
  • Input from stakeholders.
    • Reviewing plans with stakeholders including patient and family groups and healthcare personnel can help determine the most appropriate infection control practices for staff and patients.
    • Facilities might tier their interventions based on the population they serve. For example, facilities might consider a lower threshold for action in areas of the facility primarily caring for patients at highest risk for severe outcomes (e.g., cancer clinics, transplant units). Home health and hospice agencies might consider establishing  policies for masking when caring for patients with a  high risk for contracting infectious diseases.
  • Plans from other facilities in the jurisdiction with whom the facility shares patients.
    • Some jurisdictions might consider a coordinated approach for all facilities in the jurisdiction. Input from local hospitals and other healthcare providers can help inform the agency’s policy for masking.
  • What data are available to make decisions.
    • Facilities and jurisdictions might have access to more granular data for their jurisdiction to help guide efforts locally. Agencies should work with their local  public health departments for community transmission data.

Unfortunately, with the end of the public health emergency, CDC will no longer receive data needed to publish Community Transmission levels for SARS-CoV-2. CDC will continue to collect and report SARS-CoV-2 hospital admissions data on the CDC COVID Data Tracker, although not as accurate as community transmission levels for COVID-19 surveillance.  These data continue to be available at the county level and are used by CDC to help the public decide when masking in the community should be considered.

CDC is in the early stages of developing metrics that could be used to guide when to implement select infection prevention and control practices for multiple respiratory viruses. Data on the exact metric thresholds that correspond with a higher risk for transmission are lacking. In addition, data from these systems are generally not available for all jurisdictions.