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Utah medical community unites for a clear message: Mask Up Utah

KUTV Salt Lake City logo KUTV Salt Lake City 6/23/2020 Larry D. Curtis
the face of a girl © Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

The message from health care in Utah is clear: Wear a mask.

The clear, repeated message came from the Utah Hospital Association on Tuesday, along with representatives from the state's four largest health care systems, all encouraging the use of face masks in public. The medical community gathered to encourage the #MaskUpUtah initiative in hopes that the collection of experts would make an impression on those in Utah and influence it to choose to wear a mask in public.

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The medical leaders stressed that masks do help and said wearing a mask is not a political issue but a common-sense health precaution.

"The dramatic rise in case counts Utah is currently experiencing will hit hospitals approximately seven to 10 days later. Current trends show a doubling in hospitalizations each week if the transmission rate is not reduced," the program said in a press release.

Doctors on the #MaskUpUtah press conference initiative, broadcast live on KUTV.com and the KUTV Facebook page, said wearing a mask for consideration of others is not entirely different from obeying traffic laws or wearing a seatbelt. Several doctors stressed that wearing a mask isn't - or shouldn't - be political but is simply about common sense. 

Clinical leaders from Intermountain Healthcare, MountainStar Healthcare, Steward Healthcare, and the University of Utah Health all participated in the Zoom online meeting and then fielded questions from the press, first in English and then in Spanish. They intend to present a united voice to "remind Utahns that wearing a mask can make a significant difference in helping to reduce transmission of the virus."

Part of the initiative is supported by the hashtag #MaskUpUtah and a series of social media images were released, with a message about who people are willing to mask up for, including family members. Health officials on the zoom call cited studies that states that have stressed mask-wearing have prevented the spread of illness and said thousands of lives could be saved.

"As healthcare leaders, we earnestly request the public’s help in curbing the significant increase in COVID cases in Utah," Greg Bell, president and CEO of Utah Hospital Association, said. "Masking up is an important way everyone can help. Think of someone you love or care for; wear a mask for them. If we all wear our mask regularly when out in public or at work, we can bend the curve, protect our vulnerable loved ones and keep Utah’s healthcare resources readily available for all."

The clinicians said while the study of the COVID-19 virus continues, there are facts clinicians agree on:

  • Many people who are actively spreading COVID-19 may have very mild or no symptoms. Because they feel well, they continue to engage with their communities and family and do not realize that they need to self-isolate. Wearing a mask while at work and in public settings will help curb community spread from individuals with minimal or no symptoms.
  • A lot of misinformation has been spreading recently about facial masking. However, clinicians agree that face coverings, when worn appropriately, block most infectious droplets originating from the individual wearing the face covering. Thus, blocking transmission into the community.
  • To what level a face-covering protects the individual from infectious droplets is dependent on the type of face covering the material is made from (e.g., surgical mask, cloth face covering). N95 masks used in medical and industrial settings provide the highest level of protection and are reserved for the healthcare setting.
  • Frequent washing of hands, keeping a distance of 6-feet from others, and wearing a mask are basic hygiene steps that should continue to be done to stop the spread of COVID-19. While not trendy, these steps continue to be effective.

For more information about the "Mask for Every Utahn" campaign, click here.

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