PROVIDENCE (AP) — Rhode Island’s emergency regulation that required health care workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus expires Saturday.
The state will now require unvaccinated health care workers to wear N95 masks when they’re working and transmission rates are elevated, with 50 cases or more per 100,000 people per week, the state Department of Health announced Friday. As of Thursday, the state had nearly 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
The health department issued an emergency regulation Friday to implement the masking requirement, while it works on a permanent regulation. Since it’s still accepting public comment on that, it issued Friday’s regulation to fill the gap.
A group of Rhode Island health care workers tried twice last year to get a judge to block the state’s requirement that people working in the medical profession be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Many health care workers must still follow vaccine rules issued by individual health care facilities and the federal government. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requires workers to be vaccinated at facilities it reimburses. In Rhode Island, hospitals, most nursing homes and many other health care facilities get that reimbursement, the health department said.
The department said recently that about 94% of Rhode Island’s health care workforce is vaccinated.