Johns Hopkins Medicine, together with 100 of the nation’s other top health care systems, representing thousands of hospitals in communities across the U.S., have come together with an urgent plea for all Americans — #MaskUp, because wearing face masks is our best chance at slowing the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to recent studies that have shown face masks successfully limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wearing face masks protects in key ways: by protecting the wearer against inhalation of harmful pathogens and by preventing exposure of those around the wearer.
More than 11.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus — including an additional 1 million in just the past week — leading to 250,000 deaths.
The 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. Unfortunately, this is already happening in parts of the country.
The next several months will be critical. Though there has been positive news about vaccine development, no one knows when those vaccines will be ready for widespread use. In the meantime, everyone must remain vigilant, take precautions and follow public health guidance, says Lisa Maragakis, senior director for infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System. The country has reached a tipping point. The power to do what is right is now in the hands of everyone across the nation.
“Johns Hopkins is proud to join with medical colleagues from around the country in this important public education campaign,” says Maragakis. “With infection rates and hospitalizations continuing to increase significantly, week after week, it is critical that everyone wears a face mask in public or whenever they are with others who do not live in their home. Short of a vaccine, this is the single most important step we can take as individuals to slow and prevent the spread of the virus.”
On Nov. 19, a public service message ran in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times (see advertisement below). Additionally, hospitals and health systems across the country will continue to unite 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.”
To reach a broader audience, the public service effort will include messages on digital platforms and social media, online information, links to vital health resources and more. Combining resources demonstrates that these health organizations are working together — and will get through this together.
In addition to masking, the CDC suggests that everyone minimize the number of non-household contacts, maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet, and limit the amount of time around others, especially while indoors and in poorly ventilated areas. For further information about masking guidelines — how to choose a mask, how to properly wear a mask — visit the CDC website.