On behalf of the physicians, nurses and care teams at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital, I ask that you wear a mask when in public places to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and perhaps even eliminate the disease from our community.

This simple act can bring great benefit to many people.

Wearing a mask can make all the difference for the people you love, your friends, neighbors and our community. We have the ability to safeguard our older family members and protect those close to us who have underlying health issues. Wearing a mask can reduce threats to our community’s essential workers, including medical personnel, who’ve shown their commitment to our safety, health and well-being. By wearing a mask and helping reduce the numbers of individuals who contract the disease, we can ensure fewer people will suffer serious, long-term effects that continue after recovery from the virus.

We’re starting to learn just how effective face masks can be, as this example shows: In Missouri, two hair stylists had gone back to work and then found themselves showing symptoms of the disease. They were tested and found positive for COVID-19. In compliance with local ordinance, while working, they had been wearing masks as they interacted with clients in the salon. Their clients also wore masks.

Investigators found that none of the stylists’ 139 clients or secondary contacts became ill, and all 67 clients who volunteered to be tested showed no sign of infection. Scores of individuals, perhaps hundreds in the stylists’ community could have been exposed and potentially infected with COVID-19 if it weren’t for the use of face masks.

Here are some guidelines for safeguarding yourself from COVID-19: when wearing a face mask, be sure it fits properly, extending from the bridge of the nose to the chin, with no gaps along the sides. Wear a mask whenever you visit a public indoor space. When you’re outdoors and unable to maintain a safe social distance of at least six feet from other people, be sure to wear a mask. By combining frequent hand washing and social distancing with the use of a face mask, you are proactively safeguarding yourself, your family, friends and neighbors from the virus. These are important steps that should be shared with those you know, including children ages 2 and older.

COVID-19 remains a danger to all people. The Catholic Health Association, of which Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital is a member, calls us to Love Thy Neighbor by wearing a face mask. It is a safe, simple and effective way of protecting everyone for the common good. And it shows respect and consideration for frontline workers, caregivers and first responders.

By wearing masks today, we’re working for a future in which our kids’ education is not compromised. One where grandparents can hug their grandkids again.

A time when we can go on vacations without fear. The list of all we’ve given up due to COVID-19 is a long one. Together, we can slow the spread of the virus.

For yourself, for those you love and all the people who are important in your life, all of us at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital ask that you wear a mask.

Dr. Jenny Franke is the chief clinical officer at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital in Paducah.

Dr. Jenny Franke is the chief clinical officer at Mercy Health–Lourdes Hospital in Paducah.

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