ANN ARBOR – Michigan Medicine has partnered with about 100 of the country’s top health care systems urging Americans to mask up as COVID-19 cases reach record-breaking highs.
The news comes as Michigan reached its highest-ever single-day record Friday with 9,779 new cases.
Just this past week alone, one million Americans have tested positive for the novel virus, with 11.5 million testing positive since cases emerged earlier this year. More than 250,000 Americans to date have died from the disease.
As cases surge and more people choose to gather indoors as temperatures drop, hospital leaders are worried that their facilities could reach capacity quickly and experience shortages of healthy caregivers. Over the past two weeks, more than 900 medical workers at Mayo Clinic tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital system said the infections were due mostly to community spread.
Medical experts maintain that wearing a face mask is the best way to protect yourself from contracting the virus. Masks prevent the inhalation of harmful pathogens by the wearer and prevents potential harmful particles to be exhaled by the wearer and expose others.
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Ads for the new #MaskUp campaign are currently running in some of the nation’s top publications. The message 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.”
The messages will also appear on social media and other digital platforms in order to reach a broader audience.
“After many months of living in social isolation and refraining from some of our favorite activities, this is not easy. We are all fatigued and stressed. However now is exactly the wrong time to let up,” Marschall S. Runge, CEO of Michigan Medicine and dean of the U-M Medical School said in a statement.
“We all must be vigilant in the behaviors that will protect us, our families, and our neighbors: wear a mask, socially distance, and practice frequent hand hygiene. These practices are our best defense against a disease that we still are trying to understand.”
At one point this week, Michigan Medicine had 75 COVID-19 positive patients at the same time, with roughly 20 of them requiring intensive care.
“Scientists and clinicians are learning more and more from this disease, and the outlook for more effective treatment and vaccination looks promising,” Laraine Washer, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Michigan Medicine said in statement. “But for now, we have to use the tools that we know work: wearing masks, staying socially distant and washing hands.
“This, of course, makes the upcoming holidays a challenge. But the traditional gatherings of multiple households is a high risk situation for exposures to COVID.”