A new guideline regarding masks goes into effect on April 3rd, 2023. After years of being required to wear masks the guideline, the guidelines will become more relaxed in California's healthcare and high-risk settings. Doctors, patients, and visitors at these healthcare facilities will be able to opt out of wearing a face covering in California.
What is The New Mask Mandate?
A new California guidance from the State Department of Public Health will allow face masks to be optional for patients, visitors, and doctors who are not performing clinical procedures in healthcare settings starting April 3rd, 2023. This includes dental offices, hospitals, and other indoor healthcare settings in California. Vaccination status will not affect who can opt out of wearing a mask.
Although the mandate is being lifted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises healthcare facilities and other places that are deemed high risk to assess their community’s patient population and create their own specific rules for their facilities. They also advise using the CDC and the CDPH recommendations at the forefront when creating their facility-specific rules.
What Does This Mean for Dental Offices?
Any clinical staff can opt out of wearing a mask if they are not performing procedures on patients. If they are performing procedures on clients all current Cal/OSHA Dental Board of California infection control regulations apply. The new guidance comes after Governor Newsom terminated California's Pandemic State of Emergency on February 28th 2023. Although Newsome terminated the Pandemic State of Emergency, all workers, patients, and visitors must continue to wear masks until April 3rd.
Healthcare offices should remove all signage stating that masks are required. Instead you may want to post signage that informs visitors, patients, and staff of the change and inform them that state guidance has now made masks optional starting April 3rd. All staff members should be made aware and be able to clearly explain this update.
The Mandate Only Relaxes Regulation in Some Instances
Although the new guidance makes masks optional in some instances, surgical masks must be worn by dental professionals when performing dental procedures in compliance with Cal/OSHA and the dental board's infection control regulations. Per r Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 prevention non-emergency regulation N95s must be worn during procedures that produce aerosol.
Cal/Osha also requires dental practices that use ultrasonic, air-water syringes and other similar mechanical devices that generate aerosol when treating patients to have a respiratory protection program. Part of the program requires respirators to be readily available to staff, medical evaluations, and fit testing of respirators to staff occupationally exposed to dental aerosols. A written program and staff training are also required. A respirator must also be made available to any employees who work indoors and requests one even if they are not occupationally exposed to dental aerosols. The respirator must be sized correctly for the employee and provide the proper training to learn how to wear it, perform a user seal check, and inform them that facial hair interferes with a seal.
Should you have any pressing questions regarding how to stay compliant with Cal/OSHA regulations, consulting your legal counsel can additionally put your mind at ease.
Q: What is the mask mandate ending for?
A: The mask mandate is ending for workers, patients, and visitors in California's healthcare settings.
Q: When is the mask mandate ending?
A: The mask mandate will end on April 3, 2023.
Q: What are California's healthcare settings?
A: California's healthcare settings include hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices, nursing homes, and other medical facilities.
Q: Can patients and visitors still choose to wear masks in healthcare settings after April 3?
A: Yes, patients and visitors can still choose to wear masks even if the mandate has ended in a particular healthcare facility.
At Dental & Medical Counsel, PC, we understand navigating the legal process can be tricky. We believe every doctor deserves the best advice and service so doctors can do what they do best, treat their patients. We make their lives easier by providing expert guidance, so they can focus on their personal and professional aspirations.
About Ali Oromchian, Esq.
In addition to practicing law for almost 20 years, Ali is also a renowned speaker, throughout North America, on topics such as practice transitions, employment law, negotiation strategies, estate planning, and more! Ali has helped hundreds of optometrists realize their professional goals and looks forward to aiding you in navigating the legal landscape.
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