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Alabama nursing homes, hospitals urge common-sense mask-wearing after mandate expires

The Alabama Nursing Home Association and the Alabama Hospital Association issued a joint call this week for Alabamians to continue wearing masks when appropriate after the state’s mandate expires on April 9.

The request by the two groups is being made, they say, to help the state sustain its progress in fighting COVID-19.

“We realize that people are ready to leave their masks at home, but we can’t let up and risk another surge of the virus, not when we’ve come this far,” said Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson in a statement.

Alabama Nursing Home Association (ANHA) CEO Brandon Farmer said his group is urging its members to continue requiring masks inside after April 9.

“We urge other businesses to follow suit in requiring masks for their employees and patrons,” he added in a release.

The nursing home association also issued a reminder that state regulations in place during the pandemic limit residents to two visitors at a time.

ANHA also noted that their facilities are overseen by the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in addition to state policy.

A breakdown of the current regulations on nursing home visitation can be found here.

“Thanks to the vaccine and infection control practices, we have seen a dramatic decline in cases and have been able to open our doors to more visitors. Continuing to wear masks until the vaccine is widely available will help us lower the community spread,” advised Farmer.

“We realize restricting visitors has been traumatic for patients, families, and health care workers alike, and hospitals and nursing homes have done all they could to make use of available resources to connect families and comfort patients,” said Williamson. “However, to prevent further spread of the virus, our facilities are required to take additional precautions and to limit visitation when certain conditions exist.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.