Months after the coronavirus pandemic began, state officials in West Virginia are now requiring EMS personnel to wear face masks during all patient encounters.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) filed the emergency amendment on Friday.
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“It is critically important that West Virginia’s emergency medical service personnel wear masks and practice social distancing,” said DHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill J. Crouch in a statement. “These first responders are not only vital to everyday life but are also on the frontline of our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must take every precaution to keep all of our healthcare heroes safe, as well as the citizens we serve.”
The rule has been amended to add the following requirements:
- All personnel must limit bystander presence and maintain a distance of six feet from any member of the public other than the patient, and shall wear a face covering as follows:
- Personnel shall wear a surgical mask on all calls or when closer than six feet from any member of the public, and personnel involved in direct patient care shall wear a surgical mask unless an aerosol generating procedure is anticipated, in which case an N-95 mask should be worn.
- Personnel shall wear eye protection on calls, and when available, should wear a face shield to cover the eyes and mask.
- Face coverings and reusable eye protection should be cleaned before reuse in accordance with guidelines published by the bureau.
The rules are effective immediately.