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Facemasks slow the spread of COVID-19

Public asked to bring their own facemask to hospital, clinics

Gritman Medical Center has worked to keep you, your loved ones and our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, we have looked to you to help in limiting the spread of the virus.

And we still need your help – in fact, you play a critical role.

“To help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19, it remains very important to follow the recommendations of public health officials, doctors and health care leaders on the use of facemasks, social distancing and hand washing,” Gritman Chief Quality Officer Connie Osborn said. “These three simple acts give us the best chance of protecting our family, friends and neighbors – as well as hospitals and health care workers.”

While there is still much to be learned about the virus, we know it spreads primarily from person to person and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets, which can travel around 6 feet through the air, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can carry the virus and infect other people.

But there is a simple step you can take to protect yourself and others.

“Wearing a cloth facemask is among the easiest things you can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Gritman Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Brown said. “The disease is spread by droplets, and even a cloth mask can help prevent the spread of droplets. They can help keep you from accidentally spreading it to other people should you be infected and not know it. If everyone is wearing a mask, it will greatly decrease the spread of the virus. Wearing masks and keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others provides an even great degree of protection.”

COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected, so just because you feel well and think you are healthy does not mean you are not infecting others with the virus.

That’s why everyone should follow social distancing guidelines and wear cloth face coverings in public settings. By wearing a mask, you help to slow the spread of COVID-19. It also shows you care about protecting people around you who may be at higher risk of infection.

Gritman requires everyone entering the hospital and clinics to wear a facemask, which can easily be made at home. Cloth masks are now widely available at many stores in our region and can be purchased online. We have a limited supply of cloth masks available at our entrances for patients that must be returned prior to leaving the hospital or clinic for sanitizing and reuse. We are asking that you bring your own mask with you, as we need to preserve our supplies to help as many patients as possible.

Please do your part in fighting the spread of COVID-19 – wear a facemask, keep your distance and wash your hands.

More cloth facemasks are needed

Early during the COVID-19 crisis, we asked for the community’s help in responding to the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers. The response has been amazing, as more than 4,000 cloth facemasks have been sewn and donated to Gritman.

We are so grateful for the help and generosity, but the threat posed by COVID-19 has not passed and we still need additional masks to ensure we have an adequate supply to meet the health care needs of the community.

If you or your organization is interested in sewing and donating masks to Gritman, we have created a great resource with additional information, patterns and tips at gritman.org/facemask. You can also contact our volunteer services coordinator, Kim Malm, with any questions at gro.n1623647420amtir1623647420g@mla1623647420m.mik1623647420 or 208-883-5520.