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Sparrow eases face mask requirements, cites drop in COVID-19 cases

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Citing a decline in COVID-19 cases, Sparrow Health System is easing its face mask requirements for visitors.

Patrons previously had to wear a face covering in common areas around the hospital, including the lobby, cafeteria and hallways. That requirement ended Wednesday.

Officials loosened the requirements in tandem with Michigan Medicine. Thetwo health systems completed a merger earlier this week.

Sparrow Chief Clinical Officer Paul Entler said the change reflects an attempt to treat COVID-19 like other infectious diseases.

“The whole key—when you know, just looking back, I can't believe it's been three over three years—was to try and flatten the curve with COVID," Entler said. "And so the curve has been essentially flattened for well over a year.”

Entler added the decision to ease masking has been well-received by the community.

"Even though a lot of the community had gone away from masking earlier, being able to do this is a sign of recovery for me,” Entler said. "(It's) really a time not to celebrate, but to reflect (on) the incredible work within the community, not just in the healthcare setting, but to really weather through this horrific pandemic."

Entler said Sparrow would consider tightening face mask rules if cases of COVID-19 or another respiratory illness are surging in the region.

Visitors are still required to wear a mask when visiting patients or seeking medical care for a respiratory illness.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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