SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will allow masks to come off in healthcare facilities starting May 12, in line with the federal and state public health emergency ending on the 11th.

The White House on Monday announced that federal vaccine requirements will end with the public health emergency along with face masks in health care facilities. The concern is that patients who are disabled, elderly and immunocompromised will be at a higher risk of infection and death when seeking care.

Lara Jirmanus, co-found of Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity told 22News, “Many disabled people are very frightened. There are people who have been told by their physicians, should they catch COVID, they are at risk of dying.”

The Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity told 22News they want health institutions to prioritize keeping patients safe, saying they should be able to access services without putting their health at risk.

Since 2020, COVID-19 has been the third leading cause of death in the United States. Jirmanus says anyone can catch COVID and even after a mild infection, it is possible to develop long COVID, which is a series of varying chronic conditions. Data from the CDC shows long COVID can impact between 30 to 70 percent of people who are ever infected.

“Blood clots, heart problems, kidney problems, diabetes, autoimmune diseases can be triggered by them,” said Jirmanus.

Susan Beaudette from West Springfield says that wearing a mask should come down to your preference, “I feel it’s your own choice to wear one or not. If you have a bad immune system, I would suggest wearing it and keep washing your hands and be careful.”

The coalition is demanding a meeting with the Associate Chief of Infection Control at Mass General Hospital in Boston to advocate for the safety of patients. That meeting will take place on Thursday at 11:00 a.m.