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The ‘mask optional’ policy comes as COVID-19 cases and transmission rates continue to decline.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – UNC Health hospitals and clinics across the Triangle are planning to ease most mask requirements for employees, patients and visitors starting Monday, June 19.

UNC Health is transitioning to “mask optional” in most areas based on current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and low COVID-19 infection rates across North Carolina. This policy may continue to evolve as UNC Health infectious diseases experts monitor the data related to respiratory virus transmission levels and workforce needs.

There are some exceptions to UNC Health’s new “mask optional” rules. For example:

  • Patients who have symptoms of respiratory illnesses MUST wear a mask.
  • Teammates must wear a mask when providing direct care to patients with respiratory symptoms.
  • Masks may still be required for teammates, patients and visitors in certain high-risk areas and clinics such as ICUs and transplant units.
  • Patients who choose to mask can ask their provider to wear one, too.

Please note that although masks will not be required in most areas, masks are still encouraged and will still be available for use. UNC Health will respect any of our patients, visitors and teammates who choose to wear marks.

Comments from Dr. David Wohl, an infectious diseases expert with UNC Health who has helped formulate COVID-19 policies and procedures since the pandemic began:

“Cases of COVID-19 are at their lowest ever so the risk of transmission has dropped. Most of those vulnerable to severe COVID-19 are now vaccinated. So it makes sense to adjust our response to reflect the current status of the pandemic. It should be recognized that masks in our facilities are not going away. Masks will still be worn around patients with respiratory symptoms and these patients will also be required to mask. Individual entities will designate high-risk areas where masks will continue to be required such as bone marrow transplant units. Lastly, patients and healthcare staff are encouraged to voluntarily mask, given its benefits and their personal preference. When patients request their healthcare provider to mask, we will respect this preference. In clinic, I will continue to mask.”

Media Contact: Alan M. Wolf, 919-218-7103, 


About UNC Health

UNC Health is a state entity and an affiliated enterprise of the University of North Carolina system, comprised of 16 hospitals, 20 hospital campuses and more than 900 clinics along with the clinical patient care programs of the UNC School of Medicine (SOM). It exists to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians and others we serve and to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina SOM. Over the past three years, UNC Health has provided more than $400 million in uncompensated or charity care to the citizens of North Carolina. Our hospitals have received numerous awards and recognition for quality care, patient safety and the overall patient experience. For more information, please visit