JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With Missouri’s COVID-19 positive rate skyrocketing and hospitalization rates imperiling hospitals’ ability to provide care to the state’s residents, a coalition of organizations is launching a new educational effort encouraging Missourians to engage in the recommended behaviors to reduce the spread of the virus.
“The huge strain COVID-19 is putting on hospitals is endangering not only those with the illness, but all Missourians who find themselves in a medical emergency and in need of lifesaving care,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “Our hospital ICUs are bursting at the seams, and we must work together to reduce the spread of the disease to reduce the pressure on our critical care resources.”
Together, the organizations are calling on all Missourians to engage in practices that can reduce the spread of the virus — wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing and practicing hand hygiene. The goal of the campaign is to increase protection, thereby reducing the infection rate and driving down hospitalizations. We are at a critical time with the growth of the virus in Missouri, and winter is going to be one of the hardest times for the virus. Also, we are preparing for major national holidays next week and next month, all of which could trigger new exposure if we don’t take the necessary precautions.
The core message is simple. Recommended public health precautions are tools to keep Missourians healthy and out of hospitals — and nothing more. Like any tool, when used effectively, they produce results. The campaign also will remind Missourians that masking can protect not only ourselves, but our loved ones as well. At the same time, it encourages Missourians to remember the additional benefit of protecting all members of the community by reducing the spread. That will allow cities, counties and the state to avoid harsher measures to rein in the virus.
“Missouri’s businesses have reorganized and retooled to address the pandemic,” said Dan Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “As we move forward, it’s critical all Missourians follow the public health recommendations to contain this virus. As a state, our top priority needs to be keeping businesses open, strengthening our recovery and getting workers back on the job. This all starts with everyone doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
COVID-19 is widespread in Missouri, leaving no part of the state untouched. High infection rates are driving hospitalization rates to critical levels. Rural hospitals, with their much more limited capacity to handle the acutely ill in the long term, are having increasing difficulty in finding a place to transfer acutely ill patients — those with COVID-19 and all patients with life-threatening conditions.
“Rural Missourians value their independence and think personal responsibility is important,” said Blake Hurst, President of the Missouri Farm Bureau. “There’s a strong sense of community in our small towns. Right now, it’s important for Missourians to draw on that sense of community. Caring for our neighbors by taking health precautions is an easy way to show our common-sense values.”
The campaign includes a growing number of organizations with stakeholders in every community statewide. The outreach will begin Tuesday, Nov. 24, and appear in a variety of media venues statewide. Resources are available at www.healthymocommunities.com.
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