Visitors and patients at Piedmont Healthcare facilities will now need to wear medical masks, as opposed to cloth masks, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital announced Friday.

The healthcare system includes several doctor's offices, clinics and urgent cares in Cherokee County.

The healthcare system said it updated its masking policy to prevent the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus. The new rule applies across the Piedmont system to visitors, patients and staff.

“We know that the filtration effectiveness of cloth masks is lower than that of medical masks and respirators,” Moiz Master, chief medical officer at Piedmont Mountainside, said in a statement. “Not only is it lower, it also varies widely. In addition, the fit of cloth masks decreases their effectiveness. While they are a suitable alternative for public use when medical masks are unavailable (they prevent the spread of virus), they should not be used by healthcare workers to inhibit airborne transmission. I am pleased that Piedmont Healthcare and Piedmont’s Infectious Disease Clinical Governance Council are in alignment with the CDC’s updated recommendations for PPE guidelines.”

Surgical masks, KN95 or N95 masks are accepted. If a patient or visitor does not have an appropriate mask, hospital staff will provide one.

For more information about Piedmont Mountainside, visit piedmont.org.

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