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Respiratory viruses in our community have been decreasing for several weeks. We have now returned to a mild/moderate level of respiratory virus activity. At this level, Mass General Brigham employees are no longer required to wear a mask during direct interactions with patients in clinical locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have been monitoring respiratory virus activity (such as flu, COVID-19, RSV, and others) since the beginning of fall. You will see changes at Mass General Brigham based on the respiratory virus level in the community:

  • Mild/moderate levels of respiratory virus activity in the community
  • High levels of respiratory virus activity in the community

See below for a more detailed explanation about what data are used to determine mild/moderate and high virus activity levels.

As of March 26, 2024, we have moved from a high level of respiratory virus activity to the mild/moderate level.

At the mild/moderate level, Mass General Brigham employees are no longer required to wear a facility-issued mask during direct interactions in clinical locations with patients. We are also no longer strongly recommending that patients and visitors do the same in these situations.

As a reminder, regardless of the time of year, please contact your care team if you have any of the following below before an in-person appointment:

  • Have a fever or other flu-like symptoms
  • Have a known COVID-19 infection in the past 10 days
  • Have a known exposure to COVID-19 within the last 10 days

Our masking policies are based on rates of respiratory illnesses in our communities. Now that rates show a return to mild/moderate activity from respiratory viruses, our employees will no longer be required to mask as part of this policy. Masking may be required for other reasons unrelated to respiratory virus activity.

You should mask if you:

  • Have a fever or other flu-like symptoms
  • Have a known COVID-19 infection in the past 10 days
  • Have a known exposure to COVID-19 within the last 10 days

At the end of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) in May 2023, state authorities reminded all healthcare organizations to develop their plans. As part of our plan, patients will see changes when virus activity changes.

There are no statewide mandates that determine what each health system must do. Each hospital/system is deciding how they would like to monitor the season.

All hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Mass General Brigham system will enact the same changes. A full list of Mass General Brigham members can be found on our website.

Other hospitals and healthcare facilities that are not part of the Mass General Brigham system may be taking a different approach to masking and other interventions.

You may wear your own N95 respirator or mask. If you choose to do this, you must wear a facility-issued mask on top. We ask all patients who are wearing masks to do this because some patients are required to wear masks. By wearing one of our masks on top of your home mask, it helps us know that the mask you are wearing is clean and effective. Thank you for understanding.

We are committed to ensuring that patients can access medical care in a safe and appropriate manner. We always take appropriate precautions to protect all patients. Our policies are based on public health guidance and that of our infection control experts. There are circumstances when masking is an appropriate medical intervention. In those circumstances, caregivers and/or patients will continue to mask, per our policies. Patients can ask, but providers determine when and if masking in a particular situation is clinically necessary.

We will always consider any requests for accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any requests of this nature should be made to your provider.

Mass General Brigham relies on a measure from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network (ILINet).

ILINet has data from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 110 million patient visits were reported during the 2022–23 season.

ILINet monitors to see how common virus illness symptoms are. These are the symptoms of fever plus cough or sore throat. CDC provides this data broken down by geographic region. The country is divided into 10 regions. All Mass General Brigham locations are within Region 1.

Yes. These changes apply to all Mass General Brigham facilities and programs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we used universal masking (everyone wearing a mask throughout our facilities) because we had few other preventive measures or treatment options available. These include a lack of vaccines, COVID-19 treatments, and other measures. As we move into regular respiratory virus seasons, post-pandemic, we are targeting our use of a variety of preventive measures. These include targeted masking.

Updated March 26, 2024

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