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Samaritan announces mask-optional policy for most facilities

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WATERTOWN — Samaritan Health announced Friday that the majority of its facilities will now be mask-optional for all staff, patients, and visitors under certain criteria.

The operators of Samaritan Medical Center and multiple clinics said in a statement that the decision comes after closely watching Community Transmission levels of COVID-19, which remain at moderate, declining COVID hospitalization and infection rates, and dropping flu rates, as well as more indicators.

Samaritan says it now safely offers a mask-optional environment in many areas; however, if any of these metrics have an uptick, it could return to requiring facemasks.

The three major exceptions that will remain mask-required for all staff, patients/residents and visitors are:

■ The Emergency Department, because of the high-risk involved with the patients needing care and maintaining crucial source control.

■ The Walker Center for Cancer Care, because of the weakened immune systems of the patients served.

■ The Samaritan Keep Home and Summit Village, because they are regulated under different guidelines.

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