No return to mask mandates at Rochester hospitals at present

ROCHESTER, N.Y.– Hospitals in the Syracuse area are re-instating mask mandates as they deal with an up-tick in COVID, again.

A new COVID-19 variant, named EG.5, has been circulating.

News10NBC spoke with Rochester area health systems today to see if they’re seeing the same thing and plan to make any changes.

At the moment there are no broad mask mandates at our local hospitals. Both still require masking in certain high-risk settings and welcome anyone who wants to wear one to do so — but that’s not new. They are both keeping a close eye on the numbers, though.

The new EG.5 covid variant is circulating, but so far it’s not a major concern in our area.

“I think for most of us, the variants don’t make that much of a difference. If people have COVID, they need to get the care they need if they’re sick enough and they need to be careful about spreading COVID obviously, staying home until you’re better and wearing a mask if you have to go out and so forth. But we’re not looking at these variants and changing what we do based on whichever numbers and letters of a variant seem to be the latest,” Dr. Paul Graman, director of infectious disease with Strong Memorial Hospital, said.

While there is an increase in cases, it appears most are being managed at home, as hospitalizations have only ticked up a few percentage points.

But the health systems are keeping a close eye on the situation.

“It may have an effect at some point if it’s somewhat more transmissible then the variants that proceeded it. From what I understand, the illnesses caused by this newer variant are really no more severe than the COVID we’ve been seeing the last couple of years,” Graman said.

UR Medicine says individual staff members, patients, and visitors always have the option to mask in areas where it is not required, which has been the policy since New York State lifted its masking requirement in May.

The health system will continue to track the numbers, it says, to determine if or when additional measures are needed.