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Mayo not allowing face masks with valves

Mayo not allowing face masks with valves

Mayo Clinic Health System is reminding community members that when it comes to flattening the COVID-19 curve, not all masks are created equal.

Following the guidance of Mayo Clinic experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, staff, patient and visitors, all of whom require masking when in the La Crosse Mayo facility, will not be allowed to enter if their mask features an exhalation valve. Acceptable face coverings will be fabric masks, dust masks, surgical/procedural masks or N95 respirators.

“Since implementing the masking policy for all patients, staff and visitors, several types of masks have been seen at Mayo Clinic locations, including masks with exhalation valves,” says Jason Fratzke, chief nursing officer for Mayo Clinic Health System La Crosse. “While masks with an exhalation valve help reduce carbon dioxide buildup and humidity for the person wearing the mask, the valve allows exhalation of infected droplets. Therefore, these masks do not mitigate the risk of transmitting infection to others.”

Community members must bring a suitable mask with them to the hospital, and will be provided a substitute by Mayo staff if their face covering doesn’t meet the health and safety guidelines.

Emily Pyrek can be reached at

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