NEW: Widespread Flu in RI Forces Activation of Masking Requirement

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


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The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) announced on Wednesday that the flu is "widespread" in Rhode Island, triggering the state's requirement for unvaccinated healthcare workers in hospitals as well as other types of healthcare facilities to wear surgical masks.

"The masking requirement is critical in protecting healthcare workers from catching the flu, and also in protecting patients who are often dealing with other serious health issues. For people who have not been vaccinated yet, it is not too late. Flu vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and the people you love safe from the flu," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH.

Surgical Masks Required

The healthcare facilities and organizations to which this regulation applies are the following:

    •    Adult day care programs
    •    Assisted living facilities
    •    CVS Minute Clinics
    •    Free-standing ambulatory care surgical centers
    •    Free-standing emergency care facilities
    •    Home care providers
    •    Home nursing care providers
    •    Hospice providers
    •    Hospitals
    •    Kidney treatment centers
    •    Nursing facilities
    •    Organized ambulatory care facilities
    •    Physician ambulatory surgery centers

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Workers in these facilities must wear surgical masks when involved in direct patient contact. Direct patient contact is considered routinely anticipated face to face contact with patients, such as entering a patient's room, serving food to patients, or participating in group patient activities.

Flu Vaccinations

Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year.

Symptoms of the flu can include a fever, cough, head and body aches, fatigue, and runny nose. Some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu shots are available at doctors' offices and pharmacies throughout the state.


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