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Don’t let ‘our guard down’ with COVID-19

Dear Editor,

The recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the United States is a serious reminder of the strength and longevity of this pandemic. Western Pennsylvania is not immune to the increased number of cases.

There have been more than 1,000 deaths and over 45,000 in our 14-county region and we continue to see those numbers rise every day.

COVID-19 is in our communities, touching us all in one way or another, no matter where we live or who we are. And as we move into the winter months, we are very concerned about the accelerated spread of infectious disease, be it the coronavirus or the flu.

We have seen the faces of COVID-19 firsthand and the toll it takes on all frontline healthcare providers — nurses, physicians, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, and many others every day.

We also see the effect it has on patients and families suffering from the virus and the potential long-term health challenges it may pose.

We recognize many have “COVID Fatigue” and miss living the lives we once did. But we cannot let our guard down or it will be much, much longer before we will be able to live those lives again.

While we have focused on avoiding large gatherings, which is appropriate, the spread of the infection in this second surge has been attributed to smaller, casual gatherings that are deceptively safe.

With the holidays upon us, it has never been more important than right now to double down on our efforts to exercise good judgement so we can control that which we can — our behaviors. These behaviors contribute to our ability as a community to limit the continued spread of COVID-19, and the flu. We must take the necessary steps and make these sacrifices today, in hopes of a better tomorrow.

As nurse leaders, we are appealing to you, the citizens of Western Pennsylvania, to act boldly and be vigilant in your actions by doing the following for the foreseeable future:

≤ Wear a mask

≤ Wash your hands, frequently

≤ Keep physical distances

≤ Avoid social gatherings of those outside your immediate household

≤Stay home when you are sick

≤Get immunized against the flu

Thank you. Be safe and well.

Claire M. Zangerle, DNP, RN, Chief Nurse Executive, Allegheny Health Network

Holly Lorenz, DNP, RN, Chief Nurse Executive, UPMC

Brenda Shaffer, DNP, RN, Chief Nurse Executive, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare

and four other health-care officials

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