KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A group of area hospitals are keeping mask requirements in place as some counties are letting their requirements expire.

Officials from Blount Memorial Hospital, Covenant Health, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Tennova Healthcare and The University of Tennessee Medical Center all confirmed Wednesday that they are continuing to follow CDC guidelines and their facial covering protocols will remain in place.

The five hospital systems emphasize that masks and other facial coverings are still required while at their facilities for all visitors and employees of the health systems.

In a joint press release, the hospitals said there has been a drop in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths since reaching peak levels in December and January; however, new cases continue to be diagnosed daily.

“To best minimize further spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the community, the health systems continue to urge individuals to wear their facial coverings in public and to adhere to the remaining recommendations of the 5 Core Actions agreed to by local health leaders,” the release states.

The five actions include:

  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Wear cloth face coverings.
  • Practice proper handwashing.
  • Clean/sanitize surfaces.
  • Stay home if you’re sick.

In addition, the health systems recommend that everyone over the age of 16 receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently widely available to the public at no charge throughout the region.