In response to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, the Chief Medical Officers of the major health care organizations in Virginia have launched a campaign to send a message: Wear a mask.

The following is excerpted from a letter signed by the CMOs of Reston Hospital Center, Inova Health System, Novant Health UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center and Virginia Hospital Center:

“By wearing a mask you significantly reduce the risk of spreading the virus if you have it – with or without symptoms – and of contracting a virus which continues to put our loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers in hospitals, on ventilators, and in some cases fighting for their lives.

Science has proven that masks are effective in slowing the transmission of the virus. In communities where mask adoption has been embraced, statistics show a reduction in death and infection.

In Virginia, we are succeeding, which is one of the reasons we have been able to progress to Phase 3, and why our infection and death rates have remained stable and relatively low. Yet, we are not out of the woods. This virus is still a huge risk. As we are seeing in other parts of the country, it can surge when we let down our guard by not wearing masks in outdoor and indoor public spaces where we will encounter others. We must keep at it, because wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing is working.

Recent studies in Health Affairs, The Lancet, and other medical journals compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask adoption in various states. They show that mask adoption led to a significant slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate over time. Internationally, countries that have embraced wearing masks or mandated them have had a significantly lower death rate due to COVID-19.

Together we will overcome this challenge and emerge a stronger community when we put the health of each other first.”