Michigan Medicine has joined about 100 of the nation’s top health care systems with an urgent plea for all Americans — mask up, because wearing a facemask is our best chance at slowing the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 11.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus — including an additional 1 million in just the past week — leading to more than 250,000 deaths.
The current trends are daunting and frightening. 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 Nov. 19, the new campaign’s public service message will run in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. Additionally, Michigan Medicine and other hospitals and health systems across the country will continue to work together to share these messages regionally.
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.”
In an effort to reach a broader audience, the public service effort will also include messages on digital platforms, social media, online information, links to vital health resources and more. Combining resources demonstrates that these health organizations are working together, will accomplish this today and will get through this together.
“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,” said Marschall S. Runge, CEO of Michigan Medicine, dean of the Medical School and executive vice president for medical affairs.
“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.”
Runge stressed that COVID-19 is very dangerous and can have detrimental health consequences. He cited new Michigan Medicine research about lasting effects in previously hospitalized patients.
“This is not a benign disease. Yes, many people infected do not require hospitalization. But many die, and many others will never regain their health,” Runge said.
This week, Michigan Medicine had as many as 75 COVID-19 positive patients at one time, with up to 20 of them who were critically ill and requiring ICU care.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to recent studies that have shown facemasks successfully limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wearing facemasks protect in key ways: by protecting the wearer against inhalation of harmful pathogens and particulates and by preventing exposure of those around the wearer.
“Scientists and clinicians are learning more and more from this disease, and the outlook for more effective treatment and vaccination looks promising. But for now, we have to use the tools that we know work: wearing masks, staying socially distant and washing hands,” said Laraine Washer, medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Michigan Medicine.
“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.”