Proposed new rule on mask mandates in health care settings raises concerns
In this image provided by Lizabeth Baker Wade, nurses at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., on April 10, 2020, raise their fists in solidarity after telling managers they can't care for COVID-19 patients without N95 respirator masks to protect themselves. The hospital has suspended ten nurses from the ward, but has started providing nurses caring for COVID-19 patients with N95 masks. (Lizabeth Baker Wade via AP)

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“A hospital's primary objective is to ensure the safety and protection of our patients and providers.'

Hours after Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke out against COVID-19 mandates and vaccines in Jacksonville, Florida hospitals and other health care providers met with state health care officials to flag concerns with new regulations regarding masks.

Those proposed rules essentially preclude hospitals, long-term care facilities and doctors offices from requiring patients, visitors and certain staff from wearing facial coverings.

At least 29 people attended the rule workshop, either in person or telephonically, on the proposed regulation, a requirement in SB 252, which DeSantis signed earlier this year.

Representatives from some of the state’s largest health care associations attended the hearing in person at the headquarters of the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to ask questions and register their concerns about the proposed rule. The changes would apply to all health care settings where “health care providers practice their profession or provide services.”

“A hospital’s primary objective is to ensure the safety and protection of our patients and providers. Hospital policies regarding facial coverage are specifically targeted to specific populations,” Florida Hospital Association General Counsel Michael Williams told AHCA officials, adding that facial covering policies “rarely implicate all persons.”

Moreover, he told state regulators that the policies are based on several factors, including federal Medicare requirements as well as the requirements laid out by national accrediting organizations.

Williams also stressed that the basis for those policies “first and foremost (is) the available scientific evidence and best practices.”

Hospitals and other health care providers are allowed to mandate that patients, visitors and staff wear facial coverings, but only under certain conditions. And health care providers must give all patients and visitors the ability to “opt out” of the requirement.

Under the proposed rule only patients and residents in the common area of the health care setting (which the rules don’t define) who are exhibiting signs or symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, an infectious disease that can be spread through droplet or airborne transmission can be required to wear a mask.

Even then, hospitals and health care providers must provide patients with an opportunity to opt out of wearing a facial covering. The rule requires that the opt out provision be in accordance with what’s known as the Florida Patient’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which was initially passed in 1991. Among other things, the law states that a “patient is responsible for following health care facility rules and regulations affecting patient care and conduct.”

The proposed rule doesn’t specify, though, which provision of the Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities apply to providers’ policies on facial coverings and masks.

Additionally, Florida Senior Living Association Vice President of Public Policy and Legal Affairs Jason Hand told AHCA that the Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities didn’t apply to assisted living facilities.

Hospitals, long-term care facilities and other health care settings can also require visitors to wear facial coverings. Visitors who are exhibiting signs or symptoms of an infectious disease or who have been diagnosed with an infectious disease can be required to wear facial coverings. So can people who are visiting a patient who has an infectious disease or who are immunocompromised and, according to their physicians, are at risk from those who don’t wear facial coverings.

Visitors can also be asked to wear masks if they are in an area where a sterile procedure is being performed.

But, like patients and long-term care residents, visitors must be provided an “opt out.” The visitor opt out language is vaguer than the patient opt out and, according to the rule, only applies if the visitor opt out only applies if “an alternative method of infection control or infectious disease prevention is available.”

The proposed rule also limits a health care provider from mandating that their employees wear masks. Under the proposed rule, only employees who are conducting sterile procedures, working in a sterile area, are with a patient in droplet or airborne isolation, or are engaging in non-clinical potentially hazardous activities that require facial coverings to prevent injury or harm can be made to wear facial coverings on the job.

AHCA is taking written comments from the public on the proposed rule through Sept. 14.

While the proposed regulation is still being worked on, the requirements in the proposal currently are in effect today. That’s because AHCA based the new regulation on emergency rules issued by the state July 3 addressing the same issue.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • My Take

    September 7, 2023 at 7:02 pm

    Go ahead and do it, DirtSSantis.
    Ban requiring washing hands.
    Hospitals, restaurants, child care.
    Some kookvangelicals are offended by germm theory

    • Rick Whitaker

      September 7, 2023 at 9:07 pm

      i guess desantis just wants more empty beds in his nursing homes. what a loser

  • PeterH

    September 7, 2023 at 8:03 pm

    Providers need to immediately take this to court for an emergency ruling.

  • Earl Pitts "Masking Expert" American

    September 7, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    Good evening Dook 4 Brains Leftys,
    Ugly folks and Karens rejoice at the thought of masking and up returning to their glory days. Karens really loved telling everyone to pull their masks up making sure your breathing was made as difficualt and un-healthy as possable. Ahhh the power and the glory.
    Only problem y’all live in Florida. Where Woke goes to die.
    Hey heres a thought:
    Y’all Dook 4 Brains Lefty’s really never were a good fit for Florida. Dont ya think its time y’all joined “your kind” out there on the left coast?
    See Ya, Bye Bye,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Earl Pitts is a Pedophile

      September 7, 2023 at 10:34 pm

      Put a bullet in your brain, Earl.

      • Mark

        September 8, 2023 at 12:01 am

        That would require incredible marksmanship.

        • Earl Pitts "Dook 4 Brains Relocation Expert" American

          September 8, 2023 at 7:43 am

          Glad to hear you two @55 clowns are taking my sage advice and heading out to the left coast where you belong.
          Hey will you do me a favor and think about how glad you took my advice as you two are squeezing out your first “dooty” on one of the left coasts city streets. Enjoy and above all else ….. dont ever return to Flirida.
          See Ya, Bye Bye,
          Earl Pitts American

          • WhatNow

            September 8, 2023 at 8:28 am

            Don’t worry, America’s Arm Pitts moron, there’re plenty more of us from where they come from.

          • Earl Pitts is a Pedophile

            September 8, 2023 at 1:20 pm

            Earl, everybody on this site knows that you’re a child molester. It’s common knowledge at this point, and it’s weird and telling that you’ve never once denied it.
            The police report and your record on the list of offenders doesn’t lie. Our children will be safer once you’re dead.
            Hang yourself.

  • PeterH

    September 7, 2023 at 9:04 pm

    Republican government infringing on private company’s health protocol business decisions is commonly called FREEDUMB IN FLORIDA

  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    September 7, 2023 at 10:34 pm

    “Those proposed rules essentially preclude hospitals, long-term care facilities and doctors offices from requiring patients, visitors and certain staff from wearing facial coverings.”

    What in the actual F*CK is wrong with this man?

    I knew that Ron DeSantis was dumber than a handful of Georgia clay, but this is just being aggressively stupid. I can’t believe there are actually people in this state dumber than him: his supporters.

    • Earl Pitts "Political Opinion Expert" American

      September 8, 2023 at 7:51 am

      You are wrong Dr. Frankenstein,
      Besides what would a Dr. who cuts off little childern’s weiners and coochies for a living know about Covid?
      Nothing you evil troll – thats what you know. You are just puking up Dook 4 Brains Leftist Propaganda my fool.
      Thank you Dt Frankenstein,
      Leave the political opinions to experts like me.

      • Dr. Franklin Waters

        September 8, 2023 at 10:59 am

        You’re a pedophile Earl, and everybody here knows it.
        I don’t even read your responses because I don’t care what subhuman trash like you has to say. I sincerely pray for your painful death. So stop wasting your time responding to me and go hang yourself. Today.

  • Michael K

    September 7, 2023 at 10:40 pm

    MoRon DeathSentence is insane. Allowing idiots to “opt out” puts others at risk. It’s stupid and selfish. Don’t want to wear a mask? Then don’t go to health providers that require them.

    I have the right to expect that a health care provider is taking every precaution to keep me safe.

    • Frank

      September 9, 2023 at 9:46 am

      This i agree with. Health care should be allowed to require masks. You can opt out if you want but if you do then you can’t come in and we can’t treat you.

  • Impeach Biden

    September 8, 2023 at 12:08 am

    Doctors & Physicians are mostly just morons who worship at the False God Altar of “Science”.

    Ron DeSantis knows more than they do.

    • SteveHC

      September 8, 2023 at 8:42 am

      – I’m certain you believe you’re some kind of “humorous genius” but honestly, and much more correctly, you’re seen here as merely a dumb fool who apparently enjoys seeing his own idiotic nonsense up on a screen. Consider sparing the rest of us from wasting time and just writing your juvenile b.s. on a piece of paper that you can then tape to the mirror in your bathroom. Comprende?

  • Marsela1052

    September 8, 2023 at 4:29 am

    I delight in knowing there are more ppl aware of wh a ts going on than a fraction of the community. As a retired respiratory therapist I assure everyone N95 and KN95 mask are essential with the rise in cases and hospitalizations. We as responsible citizens must learn to ride this covid wave. Understanding thar ITS NOT OVER!! THE ONLY WAY TO IRRADICATE THIS CRITICAL VIRUS IS TO MOVE TOGETHER AND USE COMMON SENSE! KEY WORD IS COMMON. BE SAFE EVRY1

    • Mark H

      September 8, 2023 at 3:14 pm

      My doctor has read all the studies and I’ve seen them, too. He says even N95 masks are useless, exactly what multiple studies have shown.

  • Suze

    September 8, 2023 at 7:43 am

    So what potential nursing student, medical student or any other healthcare care worker wants to chance their life on a clinical in the anti science state of DeathSantis and wacko surgeon general. There goes your future providers but of course he is killing all the vulnerable population anyway which goes with white nationalists

  • John

    September 8, 2023 at 8:59 am

    Amazes me that you mask mandate fools wanta go back to the style of living. People wearing mask on their face, covering their mouth, nose totally exposed, riding down the road in their autos, by themselves? windows up, air conditioner on wearing a mask. Why???. If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask, if you don’t, “DONT”. Leave each other alone!!!

  • Cyndi

    September 8, 2023 at 4:27 pm

    Let me ask you if one your kids had a bone marrow transplant and the hospital asked you wear a mask would you say no? How about hand washing ?

  • Steven Bidelman

    September 9, 2023 at 5:27 pm

    All you secularists out there need to worry more about what Satan is doing than what Ron DeSantis is doing. From the looks of it the evil one is winning because he has us all at each other’s throats over something essentially stupid that came from him and not from any man. For those of you so paranoid about the conditions that you believe the Governor is causing and unnecessary deaths you think he is going to cause ,you better look at States like California Illinois New York and the like and tell me how many deaths are actually happening out there. In summary, if you do not like where you live, move nobody’s put a gun to your head to live here. And by the way Florida is a sovereign state just like any other state in the United States a lot of you should go and read your US Constitution and understand what law and what rights are before you start shooting your mouth off about stuff you don’t even understand. For instance Medicare is a federal program a federal program does not trump the Florida Constitution or Florida’s sovereignty. A state like Texas has forfeited it sovereignty by letting the border be overrun by people because the federal government says it’s okay, it’s not okay Governor Abbott is a coward. Any local sheriff who does not take his oath of office seriously about upholding the Constitution is a coward. Go to the internet and find a movie called non-compliant and watch it. Then once you have digested that go back to the internet and watch the companion movie called non-compliant 2 which tells you all about what a constitutional sheriff should be and what it shouldn’t be. Once you’re instructed with proper knowledge you are no longer going to be able to complain and plead that you’re ignorant. And if covid-19 really bothers you, find the movie called died suddenly and watch that and then come back and complain about what you think’s going on.

Comments are closed.


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