SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Masks will now be required at Syracuse’s Upstate Hospital again following a new COVID-19 variant.

In a statement released on Aug. 17, the hospital wrote: “Effective immediately, mandatory masking is required by all staff, visitors and patients in clinical areas of Upstate University Hospital, Upstate Community Hospital and ambulatory clinical spaces.”

This policy change comes as a new COVID-19 variant named Eris or EG.5 has been circulating Central New York.

Although the policy begins now, it will be reviewed in three weeks.

According to the hospital, masking is mandatory in all clinical areas of the hospital and strongly recommended in all non-clinical areas as well.

The hospital describes clinical areas as any location patients gather, wait, transport through or receive care.

According to Upstate, the Covid EG.5 variant is causing:

  • An increase in staff out of work sick with Covid.
  • An increase in patients hospitalized with Covid.
  • An increase in SARS-CoV-2 signal in both community and hospital wastewater testing.

Covid testing is now mandatory for all patients being admitted to the hospital.