As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Tennessee continue to rise at a concerning rate, the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA) and hospitals across the state are stressing the importance of wearing masks in public with the launch of the “Masking Makes a Difference” campaign.
To further support this message, chief medical officers and chief nursing officers from hospitals across the state have signed a letter urging Tennesseans to continue to take COVID-19 precautions like wearing a mask in public.
This message is especially important right now as a recent THA survey of Tennesseans indicated the number one reason respondents choose not to wear a mask is because they do not believe masks are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“Hospitals and healthcare providers are a trusted voice in our communities when it comes to information about wellness and public health. We are joining with one unified voice to say, ‘Masking Makes a Difference’. Our doctors, nurses and public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is by wearing a mask in public. Doing this, along with social distancing and frequent hand washing, will help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Tennessee,” said Wendy Long, M.D., THA President and CEO.
A recent Vanderbilt analysis reinforces the fact that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The study showed COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen at a far lower rate in areas where the local population is consistently wearing masks, providing evidence that face coverings play a pivotal role in slowing the transmission of the illness.
“We are the Volunteer State and we’ve seen time and time again how Tennesseans come together to help each other when disaster strikes,” said Long. “This time, the way to help is as simple as wearing a mask. Hospitals across the state are taking steps to increase their capacity to care for more patients, but there are limits to how much capacity can be created, especially as increasing numbers of hospital staff become ill from the virus. Your hospital and healthcare providers want to be there for you when you need them. They need your help to make that possible.”
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 began increasing in October after experiencing a similar spike during June and July. Tennessee has seen a 222 percent increase in average new daily cases and a 124 percent increase in average daily hospitalizations since October 1. As of November 17, the total number of COVID-19 positive patients hospitalized across Tennessee was 1,955. Of those hospitalized patients, 536 were in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 239 were utilizing ventilators.