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Masks still required at Intermountain Hospitals after statewide mandate expires

(PHOTO: Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Mask guidelines for Intermountain Healthcare patients, caregivers and visitors at their hospitals and facilities won’t be changing when the statewide mandate expires.

Masks a must even after the mandate expires?

The statewide mandate is set to be lifted on April 10, although restrictions may remain in place on a county-to-county basis for some time.

Additionally, health officials with Intermountain Healthcare are urging people to keep their masks on in public for a little longer.

“My advice is to say continue to wear a mask when you’re around other people, especially when you’re indoors,” explained Doctor Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician.

Doctor Stenehjem says wearing a mask shouldn’t keep you from supporting local businesses and also getting out of the house, when done safely.

“It’s the one thing that doesn’t cost anything, it doesn’t effect the community in terms of an economic standpoint,” he stated. “It allows things to remain open.”

Explaining the need for caution

In regards to the Intermountain Healthcare mask policy staying put, he thinks it’s best as they look to keep both patients and visitors safe.

“That’s just something that we feel protects the safety of you and the others around you,” he said. 

Looking forward, local health leaders are saying masks will disappear at some point, although it’s still very unclear when that time will come.

On Friday, Doctor Stenehjem suggested the state’s vaccine rollout should make its way completely through teens and children before we think of removing masks in public. Also, some officials are waiting for cases to drop even further.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson has already expressed concern about what will happen after the statewide mandate expires.

“I wouldn’t want to be a parent of a young child and have to make a choice of taking them into a grocery store and leaving them in a hot car, which we wouldn’t do,” she explained. “There’s some risk of going into a grocery store without mask mandates.”

The comments were made prior to several Utah grocery chains announcing they would keep mask requirements in place after April 10.