WMH Relaxing Mask Mandate

(Honesdale, May 11, 2023)…As of 7am today, masking is optional at Wayne Memorial Hospital and Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC) for patients, staff and visitors with exceptions. Masking is still required of anyone who has respiratory symptoms such as fever, cold, sore throat or cough. Masking is also required of those who have had a known exposure to COVID, flu or other respiratory illnesses in the past five days.

The masking requirement was relaxed in concert with the federal government’s expected official ending today, May 11th, of the Public Health Emergency enacted during COVID three years ago.

Wayne Memorial staff will still mask when caring for patients with respiratory symptoms and if a patient asks a staffer to mask.

The hospital also began removing plexiglass and other barriers in common areas such as the hospital’s cafeteria, Café 601.

Hospital staff greeted the changes with smiles and sighs, “Hooray, it’s finally over!”

While masking rules were relaxed, other measures were tightened with the lifting of the federal emergency. Here are a few highlights reported from the Department of Health and Human Services:


  • People with private health insurance may now have to pay for COVID tests, both over the counter and lab, depending on their plan.
  • Seniors with Medicare Part B will start paying for over-the-counter tests, though the program will cover lab tests.
  • Hospitals will lose flexibility to expand capacity in response to surges.
  • The federal government can no longer require labs to report COVID test results to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • COVID vaccines and antivirals such as Paxlovid will remain free until the current federal stockpile runs out. (People with insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicare will still get the shots for free. Those on Medicaid will get the shots for free through September 2024, after which coverage will vary from state to state.)
  • Expanded telehealth through Medicare will end in December 2024 unless there is congressional intervention.
  • Federal protections that kept folks covered through Medicaid during the pandemic have come to an end, threatening millions with a loss of health insurance. WMCHC’s Office of Outreach & Enrollment has launched a campaign to help this vulnerable population. The office can be reached by calling (570) 251-6569.