Joint Commission Statement on Universal Masking of Staff, Patients, and Visitors in Health Care Settings

April 24, 2020

The Joint Commission supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) revised infection prevention and control recommendations related to COVID-19. 

Issued on April 13, the CDC stated that to address asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission , health care facilities should “implement source control for everyone entering a healthcare facility (e.g., healthcare personnel, patients, visitors), regardless of symptoms.” Source control involves having people wear a cloth face covering or face mask over their mouth and nose to contain their respiratory secretions — reducing the dispersion of droplets from an infected individual. This will decrease the possibility that anyone with unrecognized COVID-19 infection will expose others and will allow organizations to forgo contact tracing if a case is identified. For source control to be effective, it requires that everyone wear a mask within health care buildings to prevent droplet and (to a lesser degree) aerosol spread of respiratory viruses, such as COVID-19. 

The Joint Commission believes that universal masking within health care settings is a critical tool to protect staff and patients from being infected by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals and should be implemented in any community where coronavirus is occurring. Even a single case of community spread of COVID-19 means that health care facilities and staff are at risk because other asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic patients may come in for care and inadvertently infect staff.