CDC says mask mandates can go at some hospitals, UW Health to stay put for now

MADISON, Wis. — A hallmark of the pandemic may fall to the wayside at UW Health, but COVID-19 cases have to fall first.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on masking Monday, allowing hospitals and nursing homes to drop mask requirements unless they are in an area of high COVID-19 transmission.

RELATED: CDC Says Universal Masking Can Be Dropped in Some Nursing Homes, Hospitals

While the news could spell the end of mandatory masking at UW Health for the first time in two years, Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof said that the masks will have to hang around for at least the next two weeks.

“If we can see some stabilization of that trend to moderate or low, then we could consider rolling these things back,” Pothof said. “Being relatively assured that we wouldn’t suddenly go back up again, at least not in the next couple of weeks.”

Pothof said that the amount of COVID-19 cases per 100,00 people remains too high throughout Wisconsin, even if the number looks moderate or low compared to other parts of the country.

“Unfortunately, Dane County or really almost anywhere in Wisconsin is not in that yellow (medium) or blue (low) category,” Pothof said. “Things are status quo here in Wisconsin until we see transmission come down a little bit.”

Pothof could not give a firm timeframe for when cases will stabilize and when the mask mandate would be lifted.