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Safety First: Brooklyn Hospitals Still Support “Vital Strategy” —
Wearing Masks in Healthcare Facilities

By Fern Gillespie
When the COVID virus was officially detected in March 2020, the world shifted. Since then, New York City has had 3,078,405 confirmed COVID cases and 44,988 deaths. People are still healing from the traumatic physical, emotional, financial, and psychological effects of the virus on their lives.
Wearing masks, getting vaccinated, washing hands, and monitoring for COVID symptoms has become a norm. Then, this February, New York City, and New York State health and government officials decided to lapse on some restrictions. New York State agreed to end its requirement that masks be worn in healthcare settings, including hospitals and nursing homes. The facilities will be allowed to set their own masking rules.
New York City medical officials disagreed with disposing of mask use in healthcare facilities. “Currently, we intend to maintain our mask policy to protect our patients and our staff, in keeping with State and CDC guidance,” an NYC Health + Hospitals spokesperson said in a statement.

Our Time Press decided to reach out to Brooklyn’s healthcare leaders at One Brooklyn Health and SUNY Downstate for their stance on maskless hospital visits.
“One Brooklyn Health affirms the importance of infection prevention strategies in our hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory care centers, and assisted living facilities.” LaRay Brown, CEO of One Brooklyn Health, told Our Time Press. “Masking continues to be a vital strategy to protect patients and staff, particularly those at higher risk because of chronic health conditions and age. Therefore, the use of masks will continue to be mandated.”
“All New York State healthcare facilities follow the NYS DOH advisory updating guidance, recommendations, and requirements about using face masks and face coverings as a method of control for COVID-19 in healthcare facilities in New York State,” Dawn S. Walker, spokesperson for SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University told Our Time Press. “SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University and its hospital—University Hospital at Downstate—require all patient care professionals to use appropriate face coverings while caring for patients and those known or suspected to have COVID-19.”
The New York State mask mandate announcement came days after Mayor Eric Adams made significant announcements regarding vaccinations and masks. He announced that New York City’s vaccine mandate for municipal workers would end because 96 percent of city workers have received a COVID vaccine. However, Adams said the 1,780 workers fired for refusing to submit proof of vaccination would have to reapply for positions with their former agencies. These workers include police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other city employees. They will not be compensated for time on the bench if they are rehired. The unions are vowing to sue.

Beginning February 10, visitors to the Department of Education school buildings will no longer be required to provide proof of at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. The ruling will give students’ families and loved ones better access to school activities, celebrations, and events. Also, the city deactivated its Covid notification service, which had alerted New Yorkers who signed up to news and information about the city’s policies and practices for addressing the virus. The last text message sent to users ended by saying, “Stay safe!”
On the same day that COVID vaccine mandates were lifted in New York City, Mayor Adams admitted caution regarding the future of COVID cases in the city. He didn’t rule out the need to reinstate COVID mandates in the future because the virus is “not going away.”