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UPMC message: Don’t let guard down

On behalf of the regional UPMC medical staff and providers, we want to re-emphasize important messages about COVID-19, a pandemic that we are all still very much facing today, and acknowledge the heroic response to this pandemic by our incredible UPMC employees as they tirelessly care for our communities.

The COVID-19 virus is real.

It is here, and it has been here for months. Now more than ever, we understand its effects, and we are continuing to learn more every day about how to best treat it. UPMC’s breakthrough research has helped to provide more clarity and is pushing us closer to a vaccine.

One thing we have known all along and will continue to reinforce is how to minimize its spread. If we all are mindful of, and stay vigilant with, the mitigation efforts we know work, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of cases in our counties, state and across the country.

Now is not the time to let our guard down.

Especially as the holiday season is quickly approaching, we remind and encourage our community members to: Wash your hands often. Proper hand hygiene is proven to stop the spread of infection.

Stay home when you are sick. Feeling like you “just have allergies” or “it’s just a cold” are not always accurate. COVID-19 looks like many other infections.

Wear a mask. Masks are proven to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, flu and other respiratory illnesses. Masking works because masks block most of the droplets that may contain the virus.

Maintain distance from others outside your household. The CDC recommends six feet of distance between you and individuals outside your own household when at all possible.

Seek medical care when you need it, and do not delay important preventive health care. Keeping well keeps you safe. If you feel sick, seek the advice of your medical provider by calling before visiting, and follow all recommendations provided. As always, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, don’t delay — our hospital Emergency Departments are safe and ready to care for you.

While we know COVID-19 especially harms the elderly and those with underlying conditions, it can and does hurt others, too. By following the medical guidelines, working together and prioritizing our health and the health of our neighbors, we can make a difference. Everyone’s vigilance is needed during these times.

And our UPMC co-workers are role models of this vigilance. Every member of our team — from those on the front lines of care, to those behind the scenes who support our direct care providers, are heroes in this pandemic. The amount of resilience and dedication our employees show, day in and day out, is second to none.

Our simple ask of our communities, to keep us safe and empowered to weather the remainder of this pandemic: Wear your mask, practice distancing, wash your hands and thank a health care hero.

We appreciate your continued partnership in this community effort.

Jan Fisher

President, UPMC Altoona and Bedford

(Note: This letter was also signed by Dr. Robert Sullivan, Dr. James Vreeland, Dr. David Burwell and Dr. Grant Hormell.)

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