😷 Less than a month after imposing a new mask mandate, it's being lifted at most hospitals.

😷 COVID hospitalization rates are falling in New Jersey

😷 There has not been a big spike in COVID infections as the weather turns cooler

New Jersey's largest hospital groups are dropping mask mandates for visitors at most facilities while admission for COVID infection continues to drop.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID data tracker lists infection and hospitalization rates as low in every New Jersey county with the exception of Atlantic and Cape May Counties.

Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel
Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel (Erin Vogt, Townsquare Media)

Statewide, the CDC says hospitalizations for COVID have dropped 5% in the last week. A total of 16,158 patients have been admitted with COVID symptoms.

A brief spike in COVID rates last month prompted a return to mask mandates at all Hackensack Meridian Health facilities. RWJBarnabas Health also tightened mask restrictions last month.

As of this morning, HMH has lifted the mask mandate at all but the following facilities:

🔴 Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel
🔴 Old Bridge Medical Center
🔴 Southern Ocean Medical Center in Strafford

Masks are required for all staff, patients and guests.

At all other HMH facilities, masks are suggested, but not required.

New Brunswick hospitals: St. Peter's, RWJBarnabas (Google Maps)
New Brunswick hospitals: St. Peter's, RWJBarnabas (Google Maps)

RWJBarnabas Health has updated information posted to its website that requires masks. A spokeswoman said all outpatients, visitors, volunteers, and vendors must wear a mask at all times. Additionally, staff at all RWJBarnabas Health locations are required to wear masks when dealing directly with patients, and inpatients that can wear masks are required to wear them when leaving their room.

Guests and visitors are urged to maintain physical distance to the wash hands before and after a visit.

Both HMH and RWJ urge individuals who may have been exposed to COVID or show symptoms of respiratory illness to delay visiting the hospital until they are symptom free.

Canva/Townsquare Media illustration
Canva/Townsquare Media illustration

Last mandate to go

The mask mandate for healthcare settings was among the last mandates to be lifted by Gov. Phil Murphy.

People Gather At City Hall To Protest Against Vaccine Mandates In New York City
Getty Images

It wasn't until April of this year, three years after the start of the pandemic, that Murphy finally lifted his universal directive that required masks in all health care settings.

At the time, Murphy said he understood if people wanted to keep masking up.

"Just because it’s not mandated doesn’t mean you can’t wear a mask yourself,” he said on News12 New Jersey, "If you feel comfortable, based on your circumstances wearing one, go ahead and wear one."

attachment-murphy lifts mask mandate late

There has been no indication that state health officials are considering a return to a universal mask policy.

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