Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/29/2020 --Experts have shown over and over – wearing a mask helps to reduce the spread of disease, including COVID-19. As fall and holiday approach, when individuals are inside more and gathering for events, Intermountain Healthcare wants to reinforce the 3Ws: (W)ear a mask, (W)ash our hands frequently, (W)atch social distance, and (S)tay home when sick.
"Wearing a mask when in a public place is the single most important thing people can do to stop the spread of coronavirus," said Patrick Carroll, MD, Medical Director of Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center. "Southern Utah has seen a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the end of August. Now more than ever, we need everyone's participation in wearing a mask."
"Everyone over the age of two who is in a public setting and around other people who don't live in the same household should be wearing a mask," said Dr. Carroll. "Researchers have predicted that 80 percent or more of a population wearing masks would do more to reduce the spread of COVID-19 than a strict lockdown. If others around you are not masking, wearing a mask still reduces your risk of catching and subsequently spreading the virus."
"Science continues to show there are overwhelming benefits to wearing a mask," said Dr. Carroll. "In areas of the country where masking became mandatory, COVID-19 cases decreased significantly – as much as 75% in some instances. For masks to be most effective, the entire community needs to participate, not just our most vulnerable populations."
Experts say any mask that covers the nose and mouth will be beneficial. The best mask is one that can be worn comfortably and consistently. "Evidence continues to show that COVID-19 in primarily transmitted through inhaled droplets," said Dr. Carroll. He said wearing a clean mask over the nose and mouth substantially reduces risk of exposure to the virus – and – exposing others if asymptomatic.
"Wearing a mask is a simple sacrifice we can make to potentially save thousands of lives," said Dr. Carroll. "Face coverings do a really good job of decreasing cases. Now is the time to take action, wear a mask, and decrease active cases in our community. Together we can work towards this common goal."
Dr. Carroll explained that face coverings should be worn whenever social distancing in a public setting might be difficult. "A coronavirus infected person wearing a mask can reduce COVID-19 exposure to others by as much as 95%. Staying at home when sick reduces the risk of exposure to others even more."
"This pandemic isn't over yet," Carroll said. "We have learned a lot about protecting ourselves and others these past few months. We still have a long way to go with this pandemic and we need to continue wearing masks when out in public. We all want things to be back to normal. Wearing masks while enjoying life as much as we can right now will help get us there."
The holidays are right around the corner. College kids will be coming home from school for winter break. Extended families will naturally want to get together during the holidays. And sharing meals together is big part of our year-end celebrations. "All of these things could lead to the rapid spread of coronavirus," said Dr. Carroll. Wearing masks and limiting large group gatherings will help slow the spread of COVID-19 this holiday season.
"If we insist on being in close proximity to one another, the virus can spread exponentially," said Dr. Carroll. "Think about visiting together in smaller groups, not eating together, and wearing masks to protect elderly relatives. Wear a mask this Halloween and throughout the holiday season because it works and because it's the right thing to do."
For more information regarding COVID, please see intermountainhealthcare.org/covid or cdc.gov/covid.
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.