Hospitals Plead: Every Mask Up

National public health campaign launches as COVID-19 cases mount

Image credit: Lynn Johnson / Cleveland Clinic

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Nearly 100 of the nation’s healthcare systems, representing thousands of hospitals in communities across the U.S., have come together with an urgent plea for all Americans – #MaskUp. The science hasn’t changed: the best way to slow the spread of coronavirus is to wear a facemask, practice hand hygiene and adhere to social and physical distancing recommendations.

“This has been a difficult year,” states Cleveland Clinic Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Paul Matsen. “The coronavirus has impacted all of us. We’ve lost friends and loved ones. We’ve lost jobs. We’ve missed graduations, weddings, births and vacations.”

“Despite all the sacrifices we’ve made, hospitals around the country are filling up with coronavirus cases,” Matsen continues. “We’ve had record numbers of caregivers out sick this week – the vast majority of them with confirmed COVID-19. We need the public to take this seriously and to help keep our essential workers safe. This message, shared on television, in social media and in newspapers across the country, will reach people and help cut through the slew of misinformation. We’ve been asking for months. Now, we’re pleading. Please #MaskUp.”

Shortages of healthy caregivers

More than 11 million Americans have tested positive for the virus – including an additional 1 million in just the past week – leading to 245,000 deaths. In Ohio, we’ve had more than 250,000 people infected with COVID-19, with more than 20,000 requiring hospitalizations.

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The trends are frightening. If the nation stays on its current course, hospital leaders are increasingly concerned that more healthcare 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 our 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, healthcare leaders are asking everyone to remain vigilant, take precautions and follow public health orders.

Every mask up is a collaboration of health systems across the U.S. joining together to create messages for the betterment of communities they serve. Here’s just one example of the messaging that will be shared:

The impetus for #MaskUp, and other public service campaigns to follow, came from a group of healthcare marketing and communications executives that have been meeting for a decade. The group has reengaged weekly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The goal is to share knowledge and experience, best practices, strategies and resources with the knowledge that they can accomplish more together.

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Founded and led by Rhoda Weiss, PhD, a Los Angeles-based national healthcare leader and consultant, the expanded coalition is partnering with Matsen and his award-winning Cleveland Clinic team for this effort. Additionally, hospitals and health systems on a regional basis continue to come together to send messages like these of prevention and safety, hope and healing, life and death, care and caring.