CHI Health requiring frontline workers to double mask or wear N95

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 10:39 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (Press Release) - Beginning Monday, CHI Health employees involved in direct patient care will be required to double mask - wearing a surgical, medical-grade mask and layering it with a cloth mask on the outside. They will also have the option to wear an N95 mask rather than doubling up.

CHI Health said due to the contagiousness of the omicron variant and the variant’s growing prevalence in the community, CHI Health made this change at the direction of its infectious disease experts to try to protect its workforce.

“We know that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is the dominant variant in Nebraska and Iowa and is much more transmissible than previous variants,” said Dr. Renuga Vivekanandan, Chief of Infectious Disease, CHI Health-Creighton University. “The transmissibility is comparable to other infectious agents like measles.”

“Double masking with a well-fitted cloth mask over a surgical mask is better source control by creating a tighter fit and eliminating gaps to prevent greater spread of this virus. N95 masks also remain the plate armor of masks,” said Dr. David Quimby, Infectious Disease expert with CHI Health-Creighton University. “Double masking will help us all to stay healthier at work and better able to serve our patients.”

CHI Health said as of Jan. 6, 210 employees were out sick. The masking method will be used to keep those numbers low.

“Most of the health workers are vaccinated so they’re not necessarily severely ill in the hospital as a patient, but if you’re home sick with a cough you really don’t want to be in the hospital infecting other folk,” Quimby said.

Both doctors encourage the public to mask up as well.

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