U.S. essential hospitals urge public to practice simple yet effective safety measures

Valleywise Health of Phoenix, America's Essential Hospitals, and a dozen essential hospitals - those with a safety-net mission - joined together in an urgent call for all Americans to remain vigilant and continue preventive actions to combat the spread of COVID-19.

As the nation faces a new surge of COVID-19 with cases on the rise in nearly every state, hospital leaders are imploring the public to double down on safety measures to help keep at-risk people and health care workers safe.

Health care workers on the front lines at essential hospitals around the country are tirelessly serving patients and communities most at risk,As we move into the fall and winter months, and we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 infections, we must all do our part to slow the spread and protect our devoted health care professionals."

Steve Purves, President and CEO, Valleywise Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the country's underrepresented populations - the same populations commonly served by essential hospitals. Leaders at Valleywise Health and America's Essential Hospitals are asking the public to maintain the most basic - and effective - health and safety measures to keep people safe. These are known as the three Ws: wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

"These are the simplest actions a person can take to keep themselves and others safe," said Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO of America's Essential Hospitals. "Now is not the time to let our guard down. We need everyone's help to avoid overwhelming emergency departments and ICUs by remaining vigilant as we continue to face this unprecedented health care crisis."

There are already more than 8.5 million cases in the United States and more than 224,000 deaths due to COVID-19. While cases decreased in many hot spots in the early spring months, infections are rising again in many states, and some experts are concerned deaths will hit 300,000 by the end of the year.

"We see the devastation this virus causes day in and day out - especially among vulnerable groups," said Frank LoVecchio, DO, an emergency department physician at Valleywise Health. "This is truly a marathon, not a sprint, and we urge everyone to practice these simple, yet highly effective health and safety measures."

The CDC reports that most COVID-19 infections are spread through contact with an infected person or through exposure to respiratory droplets within a range of 6 feet. Washing your hands often, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart from others are the most effective ways to stop the spread of the virus.

The nation's essential hospitals and health systems provide access to high-quality care for all people. They serve large volumes of patients from the most vulnerable populations, including the underinsured and uninsured.

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