Three years after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Utah's largest health care system is no longer requiring masks in its facilities.

Intermountain Health announced on Wednesday masks will become optional beginning March 15 for both visitors and patients.

Dr. JP Valin, Intermountain's chief clinical officer, said the respiratory infection season is ending, and an anticipated reduction of cases of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu contributed to the health care system's decision to ease the mask policies.

"Masks were a vital component in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections and other respiratory illnesses not only for our patients, but also for our caregivers," Valin said.

Intermountain officials said the decision was made based on current health data and collaboration with other community partners and local health authorities.

Masks for health care workers will also become optional in many cases but will remain mandatory in operating rooms, respiratory isolation areas and as directed by infection prevention teams and federal agencies.

Mandy Richards, Intermountain Health's chief nursing officer, thanked health care workers for their support.

"I'm grateful to our caregivers and those assisting our patients for their commitment they have exhibited during the past three years to always put the safety of our patients and their colleagues first and foremost," Richards said.

The company said it will continue monitoring health conditions, both local and national, and could adjust the policy in the future.