Hospitals recommend masks

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Flu levels in Hampton Roads have reached widespread levels for the second consecutive week, according to CDC reports.

As a result, effective immediately, area hospitals and health care systems strongly recommend all patients and visitors, including those seeking outpatient services, wear a mask inside hospitals, medical facilities and physician practices to protect the community from the spread of flu. Masks and hand sanitizer are available at facility entrances for public use.

All patients and visitors, even those who already received a flu shot, are strongly encouraged to wear masks inside health care facilities. The flu vaccine is the best prevention available but is not 100 percent effective. Masking provides an added layer of protection from the potentially deadly disease.

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Data suggests an infected person can spread the virus 24 hours before showing any signs or symptoms. This community-wide recommendation helps protect patients, visitors and staff from exposure to flu, even before symptoms are noticeable.

Individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms are asked to stay home and refrain from visiting patients at area hospitals. Symptoms of flu include fever and respiratory illness symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The recommendation to wear a mask when entering health care facilities will remain in effect during the flu season for as long as the disease is at widespread levels.

Additional measures to limit the spread of disease, especially flu, include washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, getting vaccinated and coughing into sleeves or tissues.

Participating medical entities include virtually all hospitals and facilities in the Hampton Roads area, including Sentara Obici Hospital and the Sentara freestanding emergency department at BelleHarbour, Bon Secours Health Center at Harbour View, Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Heart Hospital and Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center.