Update on Respiratory Illnesses
Posted Jan. 11, 2024
Throughout this respiratory illness season, Johns Hopkins Medicine has remained vigilant to ensure the health and safety of our patients and their care partners, our community, and our care teams. We have closely monitored respiratory virus updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state departments of health where Johns Hopkins Medicine health-care facilities are located.
Respiratory illnesses including COVID-19 and influenza continue to increase across the nation, resulting in rising hospitalization rates. At the same time, vaccination rates for COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus remain low among the general population.
Considering this latest data and recent guidance from the Maryland Department of Health, effective 1/12/2024, we have determined that mandatory masking will resume for patients, visitors, and employees in all Johns Hopkins Medicine locations in the state of Maryland. Masking is required regardless of vaccination status. We anticipate this requirement to be in effect on a short-term basis while viral respiratory illness rates are high.
Johns Hopkins Medicine does not permit bandanas, gaiters or masks with exhalation valves to be worn by patients, staff members or visitors at our locations. We do not recommend clear, shield-like face masks, which are different than face shields but still have gaps around the face and therefore do not provide the same protection as wearing a mask.
Additional resources: How to Properly Wear a Face Mask.
Effective April 24, 2023, asymptomatic patients will no longer require COVID-19 testing prior to hospital admission unless the patient:
- Is being admitted to a shared (double occupancy) inpatient room
- Is being admitted to a behavioral health unit
Inpatients in behavioral health units and shared rooms need to be tested at the time of admission and once again within three to five days following admission testing; no further testing is required unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Surgeons and others performing procedures may still order COVID tests prior to the procedure if they feel it is in the best interests of their patients.
Symptomatic patients and patients with a recent exposure to COVID-19 still must be tested for COVID-19 prior to hospital admission. Indications for COVID-19 testing include: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, new or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, new or worsening fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of taste or smell, exacerbation of an underlying illness such as COPD or congestive heart failure, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 in the past 10 days.
Read about the updated COVID-19 vaccine for the 2023-2024 fall/winter season.