The Triad area’s major health care providers have dropped the requirement for masks.

A joint statement issued by Cone Health, Atrium Health, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Novant Health, and Randolph Health says masks are now optional in their facilities.

Dr. Jeff Hatcher is an infectious disease specialist with Cone Health. He says the decision was based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moving Guilford County from a high transmission area to a moderate one.

“And so that’s been a big breakthrough for us," says Hatcher. "It tells us our community’s a lot safer to be in and around, and it’s a lot safer for us to be in our hospitals as well and being around our patients without masks on.” 

Hatcher credits vaccines, people moving outside during warmer weather, and some herd immunity for driving the numbers down. Masks may still be mandatory in places where patients are vulnerable — cancer patients for example, and others with low immunity or highly infectious diseases.

Hatcher says anybody exposed to COVID within the last 10 days will be asked to wear a mask.

According to North Carolina’s COVID dashboard, all 100 counties have low community levels of the virus. Emergency room visits and hospitalizations have also been declining across the state since January.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the Centers for Disease Control.

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