CHARLOTTE – One hundred health care systems across the U.S., including Atrium Health, have come together with an urgent plea for Americans to mask up to slow the surging COVID-19 pandemic now.
More than 11.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus – including an additional one million in the past week – leading to nearly 250,000 deaths. If the nation stays on its current course, hospital leaders are increasingly concerned that more health care facilities will be overwhelmed as shortages of healthy caregivers make it difficult to handle a rapidly increasing number of patients.
Beginning today, a public service message will run in national newspapers that reads “As the top nationally-ranked hospitals, we know it’s tough that we all need to do our part and keep wearing masks. But, here’s what we also know: The science has not changed. Masks slow the spread of COVID-19. So, please join us as we all embrace this simple ask: Wear. Care. Share with #MaskUp. Together, wearing is caring. And together, we are saving lives.”
Additionally, health systems across the country will continue to share these messages regionally.
The public service effort will include messages on digital platforms, social media and links to vital health resources.
“Through our own Million Mask Initiative, Atrium Health and its public and private partners have been able to demonstrate how having more people wearing masks can make a significant difference in slowing the spread of the virus,” said Dr. David Callaway, chief of the division of operational and disaster medicine for Atrium Health. “Masks save lives. Period. We understand the science of how this virus spreads and, if everyone would commit to wearing a mask whenever they are outside their home or around others, the spread would slow and lives would be saved. Wearing a mask is an unselfish act of caring that protects you and the people around you.”
Atrium Health’s Million Mask Initiative has provided 1.8 million free masks to frontline workers and people in vulnerable communities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to recent studies that have shown facemasks limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. The CDC also suggests everyone minimize the number of non-household contacts, maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, and limit the amount of time around others, especially indoors and in poorly ventilated areas.
“As we head into the weeks ahead that are traditionally filled with holiday celebrations and extra errands to run, shopping for loved ones, it’s all the more important,” Callaway said. “Nobody wants to be sick, especially during the holidays. Just a minimum amount of inconvenience, with everyone masking up, will help families make sure they can be happy holidays for all.”