What to Know About Updated Masking Guidance Due To Increases in Respiratory Illnesses

The flu, respiratory syncitial virus (RSV) and COVID-19—the “triple threat”—have been on the rise in New York City and elsewhere in the country this winter. While we aren’t heading back to the future where the pandemic is concerned, Weill Cornell Medicine and its affiliated hospitals and medical practices have instituted a masking requirement for staff, patients and visitors, effective immediately. It applies to all inpatient and outpatient areas across the institution.  

The new masking requirement has been put in place per the latest recommendations from the New York State Department of Health to protect all of us from respiratory illnesses during their current winter peak.  

The latest COVID-19 variant—JN.1—is even more infectious than earlier iterations of the virus, and it’s responsible for most of the cases we’re seeing now. The flu and RSV, along with the common cold, are surging as well 

For these reasons, all visitors are now REQUIRED to wear well-fitting surgical masks when visiting all patients or when accompanying patients for office visits.

You will also benefit from wearing a mask on flights, on public transportation and in crowded indoor settings. Do this for your own sake and for the sake of others, including older adults, the immunocompromised and, of course, your loved ones. 

And don’t forget to: 

  • Stay on top of your vaccines. That includes getting a flu shot and the latest COVID vaccine. An RSV vaccine is available for older adults and pregnant women. 
  • Get tested if you develop respiratory symptoms. 
  • Practice hand-washing—one of the best measures you can take to protect yourself from all types of viral and bacterial infections. 

We'll continue to keep you informed as the situation develops.  In the meantime, see our updated visitors policy here.

If you’re experiencing any concerning symptoms, don’t hesitate to schedule a video visit with your doctor through Connect.