YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Even though there are now many places where people can go without face coverings if they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, those who work at or visit healthcare facilities in Ohio still need to mask up.

“There is still that opportunity to give it to somebody else who is not vaccinated,” said Angela Kerns, chief nursing officer at Southwoods.

Administrators with both Mercy Health and Southwoods have spent the last 24 hours reminding people, even some of their own staff members, that while the Centers for Disease Control changed its guidance for restaurants and shopping centers, those restrictions do not cover hospitals, doctor’s offices or nursing homes.

“That’s one important nuance from what the CDC recommended. That’s where the most vulnerable patients are. That’s where the sickest people are,” said Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health Youngstown.

Experts believe the guidelines for healthcare facilities could remain in effect throughout the summer months.

“This will normalize over time. It’s not really a band-aid that you rip off and everything is back to normal in one day,” Kravec said.

Currently, less than half of Ohio’s eligible population has been vaccinated. As we’ve already reported this week, even some local businesses will continue requiring workers to wear masks on the job until more people have had been vaccinated, not wanting to risk a resurgence of the virus.

“They can’t afford to lose their whole workforce by somebody contracting COVID,” Kerns said.