Protecting Each Other

I have been asked to remind everyone to wear a mask if they are in a public indoor space. This is in addition to maintaining a safe distance (6 feet). I am sure that most of you, especially those on the front lines of this pandemic, don’t need a reminder, so please bear with me.

Healthcare providers and hospital/clinic staff wear personal protective equipment to do just that―protect themselves. It may seem like we mask up, wash up, and stay apart for the same reason, to protect ourselves. So some people may feel that if they are willing to take the risk of not following these precautions and getting sick, that’s okay. After all, it’s their health, their choice, right?

Except it’s not. Our healthcare providers stay safe so that they can take care of others. And that is exactly what we need to do outside of the healthcare setting―take these precautions to protect each other. Not only the people we are interacting with in the moment, but the hundreds of people we don’t see: this person’s immune-compromised neighbor, that person’s elderly parent, the other person’s colleague with asthma, and the people who work to keep us safe by cleaning the hundreds of surfaces in these huge buildings. State regulations and Campus Policy are clear on this point: if you are indoors and in a public space, you must wear a mask. If you have questions about your situation, please review the regulations and policy referenced above.

Another reason to be compliant is that regardless of whether COVID-19 infection numbers go up or down, our healthcare providers and hospital staff have been on the frontlines, without a break, since March. The most effective thing we can do to help them is to stay healthy and out of the healthcare system. Something almost all of us can do right now is to get our free flu shot (Tootsie pop included at no extra charge).

During this pandemic, all of our work has been focused on protecting each other—from getting sick, from spreading the virus, from suffering a poor outcome from COVID-19. That’s why a team assembled a diagnostic testing laboratory in record time, why we are pursuing vaccines, why we researched the value of certain medications, why we developed better treatment protocols, why we innovated new ways to make masks and gowns and ventilators, and why we created and staffed COVID-only Bethesda Hospital (in addition to our other clinics and hospitals).

I know that our faculty, staff, and learners are here because they are committed to making a difference. Let’s not let our COVID fatigue make us forget how important each and every individual contribution is to this community effort.

Please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay vigilant.