VA Relaxes Masking Requirements At Medical Facilities

Washington, DC. — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has relaxed its mask mandate at VA medical facilities, the agency announced today. The move aims to ensure the safety of veterans while accommodating individual masking preferences and aligning with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Under the new policy, the VA will base its masking guidelines on the VHA COVID-19 Health Protection Levels (low, medium, and high) and healthcare facilities’ conditions. When health protection levels are high, masking will remain required. However, when health protection levels are low or medium, medical center leadership will conduct a facility risk assessment to determine if it is appropriate for masking to be optional in certain areas at their facility.

Previously, masking had been required at all times in VA medical facilities, regardless of health protection levels.

“ We’re trying to be as open as possible to Veteran and clinician and staff preferences alike, while aligning with CDC guidelines,” said Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal.

The VA emphasized that regardless of health protection level or healthcare facility conditions, masking will still be required in high-risk areas such as chemotherapy units, acute inpatient medical/surgical units, intensive care units, post-transplant units, dialysis units, etc. Masking will also be required at all times for individuals with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or other viral respiratory infections.

The VHA will monitor any changes to CDC guidelines and update VHA COVID-19 guidelines as necessary. Veterans can visit the Coronavirus FAQs on the VA website for more information regarding the VHA COVID-19 Health Protection Levels.

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