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Healthcare Workers Urge Local Communities to Wear Masks

Jackson, Tennessee (November 9, 2020) – Since March, Tennessee has fared better against the coronavirus than many parts of the country. The good news is, to date, West Tennessee has not seen a surge in hospitalizations beyond what our hospitals can handle.

However, with new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases growing at an unprecedented rate, healthcare workers are urging community members to refocus on adopting safe behaviors and improving the overall health and wellbeing of Tennessee friends and neighbors.

“We were able to keep the spread of the virus under control and saw a decrease in average new daily cases and a decrease in average daily hospitalizations from early August to mid-September,” states Amy Garner, Public Information Officer for West Tennessee Healthcare. “However, something has changed in the last four weeks and, if the trend continues, we are at risk of losing all ground we have held against the COVID-19.”

Since early October, nearly every region in our state has seen a rise in hospitalizations – upwards of 50 percent statewide. According to a study released last week by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, this increase has been more significant in hospitals that treat patients in areas without mask requirements. West Tennessee Healthcare is preparing for this continued increase and is urging community members to wear a mask.

According to a recent study conducted by the Tennessee Hospital Association, nearly 40% of Tennesseans in rural areas do not believe masking is an effective means to control the spread of the virus, yet we know masks work. As outlined by the CDC, a cloth mask traps droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes. Droplets are what spread the COVID-19 virus between people. Containing the droplets help contain the spread.

Hospital officials state the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases across the state is challenging limited resources. “We are definitely seeing a rise in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations again. We’re setting the wrong kind of records,” said James Ross, President and CEO. “COVID-fatigue is real and we’re all tired. We recognize that this has been a tough year for everyone as this pandemic has swept through and uprooted our lives,” states Ross. “However, COVID-19 is alert and active and has endurance which is why we must continue following safety measures.”

Health workers stress that our community members can make a difference by doing the following:

  • Wearing a mask or face covering when you leave the house. Be sure to keep one in your car in the event you forget.
  • Keeping 6 feet of distance from other community members. Keeping a distance between others should also be done while wearing a mask or face covering.
  • Continuing to disinfect high-touch surfaces. Remember to wipe down your cell phone, doorknobs, remote controls, and other frequently used objects.
  • Washing your hands regularly throughout the day. Wash your hands for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer if water and soap are unavailable.

“At West Tennessee Healthcare our goal is to help our community rebound from these stressful times, keep our community healthy and safe and be available when needed. To continue moving forward and regain a sense of normalcy requires the cooperation of each of us to adhere to the evidence-based guidelines recommended by health care experts at every level we all know,” states James Ross.