Minimum Standards for Safe Practice

Reminder on Current Masking Guidelines

From the UTMB COVID-19 Clinical Task Force

Sept. 6. 2022: Updates to visitation, social distancing and masking requirements

Due to the declining rates of COVID-19 infections in our region, modifications have been made to the UTMB social distancing and masking requirements and visitation policy, effective September 7, 2022. The changes are detailed in this latest message from the COVID-19 Task Force.


Additional clarifications are provided in the FAQs below:

Do I have to mask when seeing a patient in the hospital who does not have COVID?
Yes, masks will continue to be required in all patient care areas of UTMB hospitals and clinics. This includes direct patient-facing evaluation rooms, adjacent hallways and entries, and waiting rooms and meeting spaces/offices within clinics or inpatient units. It does NOT include hallways, elevators and offices away from patient care areas, and common areas such as cafeterias.

When staff or visitors are walking through the hospital hallways or are in the elevator or in waiting rooms or at lunch in the breakroom or cafeteria, do they have to mask?
Masking is no longer necessary in common areas of the our clinical facilities including hallways, elevators and offices away from patient care areas, and common areas such as cafeterias, except as noted below. 

Do I have to wear a mask when transporting a patient in the hospital? 
Yes, when transporting any patient in the hospital setting, both the patient and the transporting personnel should wear the appropriate face mask.

Do I have to mask in a hospital-attached facility, such as breast imaging, that serves outpatients?
Patients and visitors who are coming for outpatient procedures must mask. 

If I am not vaccinated against COVID and have obtained either a medical or religious exemption, am I required to mask when not performing clinical duties?
Yes, all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated employees must remain masked at all times when interacting with others and also when in common areas of the hospitals and clinics, including education, research, clinical or administrative buildings.

If I am attending an in-person meeting with my colleagues do I have to wear a mask and maintain social distancing? 
In-person meetings will be allowed, but a virtual meeting option should be offered whenever possible. Light meals may be offered at meetings in non-clinical areas. Masking requirements at the meetings will follow the current guidance for clinical and non-clinical areas.

If I am attending a class or a meeting in non-clinical buildings, do I have to wear a mask? Masks are encouraged but NOT required in non-clinical areas, such as administrative, classroom, research and warehouse buildings. If clusters of infections are found at specific locations, masking may be required for a limited period as directed by Infection Control staff.

I have had COVID infection, and I am returning to work after five days because I am feeling better. Do I have to mask even though I do not work in clinical areas?
Policy on return-to-work after COVID infection has remain unchanged. Based on antigen testing results and clinical improvement, employees can return to work after five days. However, they must wear a KN95 mask, N95 mask or double medical masks for an additional five days, and must take breaks alone in a separate room and cannot have any unmasked interactions. Antigen-positive individuals cannot care for immunocompromised patients, neonates or neonatal ICU patients.

For additional questions, please contact Dr. Janak A. Patel, MD at jpatel@utmb.edu.

Gulshan Sharma, MD, MPH, FCCP
Senior Vice President and Chief Medical & Clinical Innovation Officer

Janak A. Patel, MD
Director, Department of Infection Control & Healthcare Epidemiology