Crouch says mask rule will stick

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch says he has no plans to lift a recently filed rule that requires all EMS workers in West Virginia to wear masks when dealing with patients.

Bill Crouch

“The reason for that (the rule) is that we have reports of EMS folks not wearing masks,” Crouch said during Gov. Jim Justice’s Friday media briefing on the coronavirus. “Those folks are critical to our emergency management structure in the state of West Virginia and the responses that we need.”

The amended legislative rule was filed Friday, Sept. 11, and took effect immediately.

Crouch said he’s heard of some complaints from EMS workers in the past 10 days but he said he sees no reason to reverse the move.

“I understand they’re upset about that. There was a reason to do that. We believe it’s important and I stand by those rules,” Crouch said.

He cited outbreaks in recent weeks involving EMS crews, firefighters and police officers.

“If you wear the mask and don’t need the rule then the rule will have no impact on you,” Crouch said.

The amended rule includes 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 DHHR is accepting written comments on the change through Oct. 5.





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