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Most people who visit health care facilities in Hampton Roads will no longer be required to wear a mask.

The region’s major health systems made the announcement in a joint statement Monday morning. Those include Sentara Healthcare, Bon Secours, Riverside Health System, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare and the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.

Hospital officials “closely monitored COVID-19 activity for the past three years across our communities, using scientific data and the highest safety standards to guide our decisions throughout the pandemic,” they wrote.

Health systems nationwide are now seeing a steady fall in cases of the three respiratory viruses that triggered a surge in emergency department visits and hospitalizations last fall: COVID-19, the flu and RSV.

That led the local systems to “jointly support” removing masking requirements, starting Tuesday, they said in the statement.

They noted that masks are still strongly encouraged and available for anyone who visits the facilities.

There are a few exceptions. Patients seeking treatment for a respiratory illness should continue to wear a mask to prevent spreading the virus.

Health care workers should also follow transmission precautions while seeing patients. 

“Masks will continue to be an important tool, along with vaccinations, to keep people healthy and safe,” they wrote.

The health systems say they will continue to monitor Virginia’s COVID-19 data and other respiratory viruses within the region.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, cases of COVID-19 have fallen consistently since the most recent peak of 16,713 the last week of December. 

The most recent week for which data is available, ending March 11, saw fewer than 2,500 cases of the virus.

Nearly 2.3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Virginia since the pandemic began in early 2020. That’s roughly a quarter of the state’s population.

The peak of the crisis came in January 2022.