Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/19/2020 --As we enter the summer months and more businesses and public locations have re-opened, Intermountain Healthcare wants everyone to know that it's vital to know that we are not past the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. Quite the contrary. New hotspots have arisen around the nation. and Intermountain's home state of https://coronavirus.utah.gov/case-counts/">Utah has actually seen dramatic spikes in the number of residents testing positive for the virus.
"We have seen a clear change in the number of new cases, and that change reflects increased community spread," said Brandon Webb, MD, chair of Intermountain Healthcare's COVID-19 Therapeutics team and an infectious disease physician. "If you look at it, it definitely correlates with community behavior, starting with Memorial Day weekend. So, in a real way, the numbers are highlighting that people are getting tired of social distancing and may not be taking the necessary steps to reduce spread. These cautionary measures remain important nonetheless."
It's important to remember the safety guidelines that has been talked about during past few months. The information has been repeated many times, but it is the best protection we have for ourselves, our loved ones, and high-risk individuals in our communities, and the best way to reduce the spread of this virus.
1. Wear a mask
Wearing a mask is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of respect. Think of it as a sign that you are doing your best to help control the spread of COVID-19.
"We wear the masks really for others," Dr. Webb said. "If we happen to be positive for the virus, but have not yet have developed symptoms, the mask reduces the likelihood of transmission to others. When people ask, I tell them I wear the mask out of respect for others because I work in a hospital and I wouldn't want to inadvertently put others at risk."
Even though you feel fine, it is possible you are carrying the COVID-19 virus, but have no symptoms. There is now evidence that shows that transmission of the virus drops significantly if a person wears a mask. Cloth masks, while not as effective as medical-grade masks, still protect yourself and others.
2. Continue to social distance
It is understandable that we want to be finished with the social distancing aspect of the pandemic. It's been a challenging few months, but Utah fared much better than other states at the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic when people consistently applied these guidelines. Social distancing helps slows the spread rate of infection, protects our highest-risk population, and ensures our healthcare system has the capacity to treat patients in the weeks and months ahead.
While it's possible to leave your house, remember to avoid crowded places, stay at least six feet apart, and be in groups smaller than ten.
3. Soap, rinse and repeat
Lastly, one of the very best ways to eliminate the spread is by washing your hands frequently with soap and water. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, touching your face, and coughing, or sneezing.
If you don't have soap and water readily available, such as after leaving a store, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Also, for around the house, clean frequently-touched surfaces and objects daily. This includes tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, cabinet handles.
These methods can significantly help prevent COVID-19 transmission.
"Our number one goal is to keep people safe," Dr. Webb said. "It's critical that we continue as a community to pull together to really continue to do the social distancing – because it works. Because there are lives young and old that depend on it."
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org.