WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- If you walk into a Sentara medical facility you’re should consider a new accessory for your face.

Starting this past Tuesday, patients, visitors, and medical staff at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, Sentara Lake Ridge, and Sentara Lorton, will be encouraged to wear a face masks. The move will curb the spread of the flu, officials said.

The move comes as influenza is noted as widespread throughout Virginia, and at a time when flu season is at its peak.

Those coming in for appointments to see physicians, or those who are visiting family members in the hospital will also be encouraged to also wear masks. Even if you had a flu shot, masks are still encouraged by the hospital.

More in a press release:

Medical evidence suggests infected persons can transmit the virus as much as 24 hours before displaying symptoms. This recommendation will help protect patients, visitors, and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms occur.

Our goal as health care providers is to use every available and appropriate measure to protect the community, our patients, visitors, family members, and staff at medical facilities from exposure to outside infections. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided at most facility entrances for public use.

Hospitals and health systems are also asking individuals displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness not to visit patients at area hospitals. Symptoms of flu include: fever and respiratory illness such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

*An earlier version of this story stated masks would be required but a correction was made to reflect the medical center’s policy of strongly encouraging the wearing of face masks, not requiring them.