Skip to main content

Patients and visitors at the Mayo Clinic will now be asked to wear a medical-grade mask instead of a cloth face mask. 

The renowned Rochester-based medical clinic updated its mask policy on Wednesday in response to the highly contagious omicron variant that's causing COVID-19 cases to surge in Minnesota and across the country. 

Mayo says this a masking "standardization" is necessary due to the "variability" in performance of cloth masks, and due to patients and visitors wearing a "wide range" of face coverings. 

Several studies have shown single-layer cloth masks, neck gaiters and bandanas don't provide "optimal protection" against COVID, and due to omicron spreading, there is an "urgent need to strengthen all layers of protection against COVID-19," Mayo said. 

"This is a proactive change to reduce the risk of transmission on our campuses, and ensure a safe environment for our most vulnerable patients," Mayo Clinic Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. John O'Horo said in a statement to KIMT. "The medical-surgical masks, the disposable ones that we use in the hospital and clinic setting, are verified to meet a certain standard that we know is going to be very effective at source control and containing transmission."

So, anyone who goes to Mayo will be offered a surgical/procedural mask when they check in or go through the screening process. Depending on the type of mask, patients and visitors will either be asked to wear a surgical mask or be required to switch to a medical-grade mask. 

  • Anyone who is wearing an "unacceptable mask" — masks with exhalation valves, neck gaiter or bandana — will be required to wear a medical-grade mask (surgical/procedural, N-95 or KN-95).
  • Those who wear other non-medical grade masks, such as a cloth mask, will be asked but not required to wear a Mayo-provided mask instead of their cloth mask. 

"Patients and visitors may choose to wear their surgical/procedural mask over a cloth mask if they prefer for reasons of comfort and fit, with the surgical mask on the outside," Mayo said. 

Consistent masking with an appropriate mask, as well as getting the COVID-19 vaccine/getting boosted and physical distancing, provide protection against COVID and the omicron variant, Mayo said.

In addition to updating its masking policy, Mayo Clinic said Thursday it is implementing stricter hospital visitor guidelines at the Rochester clinic to "protect the health and safety of patients and staff amid the surge in COVID-19 cases."

One "consistent" visitor per patient will be allowed at the Rochester facility for daytime visits, ER visits and surgeries or procedures. This new rule goes in effect on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. 

Visitors will be screened for symptoms before being allowed to enter, Mayo says. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 2.12.05 PM

Changes at K102's Chris Carr & Company, with Sam Sansevere joining as co-host

She is the daughter of former KQRS morning show personality Bob Sansevere.

Screen Shot 2023-01-27 at 1.16.21 PM

Minneapolis' Royal Foundry Craft Spirits announces closure

The distillery set out to infuse the Minneapolis craft cocktail scene with British flavor.


Shutterfly to cut almost 100 jobs at Shakopee facility

The layoffs are expected to impact multiple positions within the company.


Mill City Museum in the running to be named best history museum in the U.S.

The museum offers scenic views of the Mississippi River.


Man charged with attempted murder of White Bear Lake police officer

Daniel Holmgren Jr., 33, was being served an arrest warrant at the time of the incident.


Gallery: 1,000-acre Wisconsin resort listed for nearly $4.3M

The lush landscape features a creek and private lake.

school bus

Alert after Woodbury students approached by strangers asking if they want candy

Valley Crossing Elementary School urged parents to go over safety information with their children in response to the incident.

basketball unsplash stock

North St. Paul basketball cancels Eden Prairie game after opposing coach's reinstatement

Head Coach Cornelius Gilleylen said he let his players decide amongst themselves.

Pixabay - school - classroom

These are the nominees for 2023 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Education Minnesota has nominated 131 teachers from across the state.


Cities prepare for release of footage showing Tyre Nichols' fatal arrest by Memphis PD

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara issued a statement on the incident Thursday.

DeShaun Hill

Cody Fohrenkam found guilty of Deshaun Hill Jr.'s murder

The 15-year-old was fatally shot on Feb. 9, 2022.


Mayo clinic

Mayo Clinic will require COVID-19 vaccines for all its staff

Those who decline will be required to wear masks and socially distance while on campus.

covid, vaccine

Mayo Clinic opens vaccine appointments to non-patients

After a rush for appointments, other vaccine providers are also reporting more open appointments.

thanksgiving turkey

Here are the Mayo Clinic's tips for staying COVID safe this Thanksgiving

Small, indoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people should be OK.

Mayo clinic

Mayo Clinic makes $727M profits in 2020 despite pandemic

The clinic cited philanthropic gifts, investments and alternative revenue sources.

face mask

MN health officials: Better to wear 1 mask the right way than 2 the wrong way

Wearing two masks could add protection against COVID-19, but health officials stress the importance of consistency wearing one mask that fits appropriately.

unsplash - woman sick coughing - CROP

Long COVID: Review of Mayo patients may provide new clues

The researchers summarized three "major novel findings" from the data.