BOONE — On Tuesday, April 28, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System announced that it will now require face masks to be worn by anyone entering an ARHS facility. This requirement applies to all employees, patients, vendors and visitors, which are only permitted under special circumstances.

Those who do not have a mask will be provided either a cloth face mask or an “OSHA approved” yellow face mask at established entry checkpoints at Watauga Medical Center in Boone and Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville, according to the ARHS announcement.

Patients who enter an outpatient medical office will be provided a mask at check-in.

“We understand it may feel different to wear a mask. However, the smallest things can sometimes make the biggest difference,” said Chuck Mantooth, president and CEO of ARHS. “Masks help prevent people spreading COVID-19 to others before they know they are sick, and we all have a part to play in protecting each other. Our employees are leading by example because we deeply care about our community.”

This requirement is being implemented following an updated recommendation from the CDC that states, “as part of source control efforts, health care personnel should wear a face mask at all times, while they are in the health care facility.”

Per CDC guidelines, face masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has banned visitors at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital, except on a case-by-case basis for hospitalized minors, patients at the end of life, patients needing help with communication or decision making and patients giving birth.

For additional information about how ARHS is responding to COVID-19, visit

Questions about wearing a face mask to an upcoming appointment can be directed to the appropriate local facility.

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