Over the last several months, the world has watched as COVID-19 spread from such areas as China and Italy to the shores of the United States. Initially coastline states took a hard hit from the virus while the mid-west remained fairly untouched. Unfortunately around mid-March that was no longer the case. Now with the last few months behind us, some regulations are being lifted. Even so, it is still imperative to remain diligent about safety precautions when interacting with others in public.
“The public has done a great job of practicing social distancing and proper handwashing, but wearing of face protection in public seems taboo and hasn’t been put into action as much as it should be,” emphasized Dr. Michael McLoughlin, Internal Medicine provider at Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics. “Whether it’s at work, going to the store, or at any other social gathering, people need to wear face protection.”
Evidence to date suggests that COVID-19 is spread by infectious droplets emitted within close range to the eyes, nose, or mouth, or by direct contact with those droplets such as touching a contaminated surface and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth. When properly used, face masks and face shields help to reduce the spread of community acquired infections by providing a barrier for droplet transmission and encouraging the reduced touching of the face.
McLoughlin further shared, “Using a mask or face shield consistently can help decrease the risk of transmission and allow us to reopen the economy more safely. There is real danger in not reopening the economy. However, there is also an extreme danger in reopening the economy without taking some precautions. That is where masks or face shields are really a win-win. A business that doesn’t have an outbreak is a business that can remain open and keep people employed.”
While Wright County seemed to be untouched by the virus for a long time that is no longer the case. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing COVID-19 increasing in the county,” shared Sandy McGrath, RN, Environmental health and Epidemiology. “We know of at least a dozen reported cases and believe there are twice as many non-reported cases of individuals who have not been tested. We cannot emphasize enough to individuals and businesses how serious it is to practice the necessary precautions including wearing face protection.”
To help protect area residents, Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics is working on an initiative to collect cloth face masks. Both adult and child-sized masks are needed. Face shields are also welcomed. Donated masks will be given to area businesses, churches, food pantries, schools, and other local resources to be distributed to the public. Residents are asked to only take one mask per family member. Parties interested in donating or distributing masks, or providing funds to support this project, should contact Kim Marker at 515-532-9301.
“Our goal is to get face masks to as many individuals as possible,” said Cindy Hunter, Iowa Specialty Hospital Senior Leader. “We know that may not be physically possible, but other options include wearing a scarf or bandana, work respirators, or any other items that safely and securely cover the nose and mouth. Basically, when anywhere in public, we want to see all individuals wearing face protection.”
Cloth mask making instructions, including no sew options are able by visiting: https://www.iowaspecialtyhospital.com/resources/ish-covid-19-information--update/how-to-help/. You may also find instructions for proper wearing, removal, and washing of cloth face masks on the hospital website.
“I’m proud of the work that Iowa Specialty Hospitals and Wright County Public Health has done throughout the last few months regarding preparations and precautions for COVID-19,” concluded McLoughlin. “We’re asking the public to continue do their part. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and wear face protection anywhere you are interacting with others outside of your household.”
If you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19 or should be tested for the virus for other reasons, please call Iowa Specialty Hospital at 844-474-4321 and ask to be directed to the COVID-19 triage line. Spanish speakers may call 515-602-9820 for Iowa Specialty Hospital’s Spanish language triage line.