I am writing to you ahead of schedule with a great sense of urgency as I just learned that rt.live announced that, as of August 7, Hawaii has the highest CoVid-19 reproduction rate in the USA, 1.36. This is bad news for everyone, but especially for nurses. We are on the front-lines of the pandemic as a result of our professional responsibility. We care for the health of our patients, families, staff, friends, and the larger communities to which we belong.
The reason for the increasing rate of CoVid 19 reproduction is simple: People are not keeping their distance from others, wearing their masks appropriately or washing their hands frequently.
I get it: Everyone is tired of hearing about CoVid-19. Everyone is tired of the restrictions on activities. I see people without masks or with their masks riding on their foreheads under their chins, loosely covering their mouths, or in their pockets. I see them on the beach, playing volley ball, riding in elevators, on the street, pretty much everywhere, except in stores where staff enforce the rule. A mask-less and seemingly-sober individual actually passed me on Kalakaua then stopped to ask for a hug. What!?!
The bottom line:
Everyone needs to wear a mask properly covering the nose and mouth and wash their hands frequently.
PPE is scarce and therefore expensive. But research shows that a double layer of cotton t-shirt material blocks 98% of droplet transmission. (A single layer only blocks 40% so make sure & tell people to double up). Everyone has an old t- shirt they can spare to save their lives.
Wearing a mask is effective in preventing CoVid-19. You have read of the case of the two hair stylists in Missouri with active CoVid-19 who saw a total of139 clients between them. The Springfield Health Department was relieved to find that not one of the clients contracted the disease! Why: The stylists and the clients all wore a mask. (Explain to people: Yes, it is possible to wear a mask at the salon. Get or make the kind with ear loops or modify one you already have so the elastic doesn’t go around the back of the head but behind the ears).
Healthcare workers are not immune. Seventeen residents at University of Florida contracted CoVid-19 after attending the same party. Yes, wearing a mask all day is miserable. But doing so saves lives – even your own.
Younger people take the CoVid threat lightly, thinking they will fight off Co-Vid-19 like a cold, and they just might. Meanwhile, while asymptomatic, they can pass the potentially lethal virus to a friend, family member, or kapuna. They may also become sick themselves. There have been CoVid fatalities in otherwise healthy young adults. The same goes for keiki, who many people (including the president, God help us!) think are immune to Co-Vid-19. They are not. If exposed, even if they do not become ill, they can and will pass it on.
Hugging a loved one should not result in a death sentence.
Spread the word: EVERYONE needs to wear a mask and wash their hands faithfully, at all times.
My dear colleagues, mahalo nut loa for all you do, and all you will be called to do in the days and weeks ahead. People trust us nurses. Let them know how to protect themselves and others. We need to reduce transmission now.
For more information please visit:
- CDC’s Information on Cloth Face Coverings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
- CDC Editorial in JAMA: Brooks JT, Butler JC, Redfield RR. Time for universal masking and prevention of transmission of SARS-CoV-2. JAMA. Published online July 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.13107 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/10.1001/jama.2020.13107external icon
- MMWR Article: No Transmission of Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 After Significant Exposure With Universal Face Mask Use at a Hair Salon – Springfield, Missouri, May 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6928e2.htm?s_cid=mm6928e2_w
- MMWR Article: Factors Associated with Cloth Face Coverings Use during the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, April and May 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6928e3.htm?s_cid=mm6928e3_w
At least 2 new coronavirus deaths and 151 new cases were reported in Hawaii on Aug. 6. Over the past week, there have been an average of 132 cases per day, an increase of 420 percent from the average two weeks earlier.
As of Friday afternoon, there have been at least 2,891 cases and 28 deaths in Hawaii since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.