Samaritan facilities will lift the face mask requirement on April 3. (Photo provided by Samaritan Health Services)

The Oregon Health Authority will rescind the pandemic face mask mandate for patient care facilities and face masks will no longer be required beginning April 3 in most Samaritan health-care settings, the Corvallis-based health-care organization announced.

“COVID-19 today is much different than it was in the spring of 2020, when uncertainty reigned,” Dr. Adam Brady of Samaritan Infectious Disease and chair of Samaritan’s emerging pathogens committee said through a press release. “The virus has evolved to cause less severe disease due to changes in the virus itself and widespread vaccine and infection-related immunity in the population. We have medications to reduce the risk of severe disease in those who are at high risk and to treat those who do develop severe disease.”

Brady said Samaritan will remain diligent in its efforts to keep patients safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Those efforts include:

• Asking patients to wear a face mask if they have symptoms of any respiratory illness such as colds, flu or COVID-19.

• Stocking infection-prevention stations at clinics and hospitals with masks, tissues and hand sanitizer. 

• Requiring that people visiting patients are free of contagious disease. 

• All manner of infection prevention protocols including cleaning, sanitation, isolation precautions for patients with certain contagious diseases, etc. 

Officials said that wearing a mask remains an effective way to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses and Samaritan patients, visitors and staff are still welcome to wear face masks. Face masks and hand sanitizer will continue to be available at hospital and clinic entrances.

Patients are also welcome to request that their care team members wear face masks during their appointments. 

“This is a significant milestone in the pandemic,” Brady said. “Over the past three years, Samaritan staff, patients and visitors have diligently worn face masks in a selfless effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we are grateful.”