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PMH HealthBeat

PMH urges vigilance in preventing COVID-19

As cases of COVID-19 increase in our county and surrounding counties, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital urges vigilance in preventing this disease.

“We’re all tired, and it’s hot, but as we let our guard down, that’s how this virus spreads,” Michelle Deeds, Director of Nursing and Clinical Services at PMH, said. “We urge our community to wear masks when in public when social distancing is not possible.”

The most important ways to prevent spread are to practice good hand hygiene, maintain social distancing of at least six feet, and wear a mask.

There is much debate and many opinions about masks. A recent study published in Health Affairs compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It found that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate, which became more apparent over time.

Another study looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries and found that those with cultural norms or government policies favoring mask-wearing had lower death rates.

One of the most widely publicized “success stories” for the wearing of masks involved a man who flew from China to Toronto and then tested positive for COVID-19. He had a cough and wore a mask on the flight. All 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19. In another case, in May, two hair stylists in the state of Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Hair stylists and all customers wore masks and none of the clients tested positive.

According to a study by scientists in Hong Kong, the rate of non-contact transmission through respiratory droplets or airborne particles dropped by as much as 75% when masks were used in tests involving both sick and healthy hamsters. The scientists found that placing masks over an infected cage dropped the infection rate more than 15%. The infection rate went up to 33% when masks were used to cover a healthy cage. With no mask barriers at all, roughly two thirds of the healthy hamsters were infected with the virus within a week.

In April, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital began requiring all patients and staff entering the hospital to wear a face mask. This policy is reviewed monthly and will continue as long as it is deemed necessary.

Fabric, homemade masks are acceptable for patients and non-clinical employees of the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies, and especially in areas of significant community transmissions.

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