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The best treatment for COVID-19: prevention

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We hold a powerful tool in our hands to stop the spread of COVID-19 and return Georgia to a healthy state, both for our people and our economy.

That tool is a simple mask.

Wear it in public, and you’re doing your part to move Georgia one step closer to full recovery.

Recent studies show that if more than 85 percent of us wear a mask in public and avoid crowds, we will experience the same positive outcome as a complete shutdown.

Think about that.

During this challenging time of a global pandemic, there’s one thing all Georgians can agree upon — the sooner we can stop this coronavirus from spreading, the sooner we can get back to some normalcy.

Above all, we want healthy Georgians leading active lifestyles as they enjoy a successful return to a vibrant economy.

To make that vision our reality, it will help if we all work together and collectively change our behavior, especially in these ways:

• Wear a face mask when we leave home or when there is a potential for spreading the virus within a household.

• Practice social distancing and avoid gatherings that facilitate spread of the virus.

• Wash our hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.

• Support and encourage businesses of all sizes in their efforts to keep customers and employees safe from COVID-19.

• Stay home and self-quarantine if we feel ill.

• Disinfect commonly shared and high touch surfaces daily and after each use. Taking these steps matters. Georgia has crossed 256,000 COVID-19 cases, and more than 5,000 people in Georgia have died from the virus. Our hospitals around the state are approaching capacity in critical-care areas such as Intensive Care Units. More than 23,000 people have been hospitalized in our state, with more than 12,000 of those since July 1. We continue to set records for number of cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Georgia, and we have been cited to currently have one of the highest infection rates in the country as a top five hotspot.

The threat is not gone. It’s increasing, and many hospitals across the state have been hard pressed to keep up. We are faced with new measures we’ve never had to take in Georgia, including opening surge hospitals and cancelling major sports, business, and entertainment events that gather large crowds.

Those of us on the public health frontlines — doctors, nurses, critical-care teams — have seen the impact in human terms. People of all ages, ethnicities, races, and genders have been affected, often without knowing how or where they were infected. Emergency services and hospital staffs have worked long hours under stressful conditions to care for patients — some critically ill — around the clock. Evolving data on transmission, prevention, and treatment and the varying availability of resources and hospital capacity have added to the impact.

We see the suffering, the fear, and the tragic loss of life, up-close and in realtime. This is a pandemic, not an isolated illness – it impacts us all in some way, every day. The more people who get infected, the more we are all affected. The best treatment we have right now is prevention.

Wearing a mask can help prevent both transmission and infection, and may reduce the severity of illness if you do contract COVID-19. Many business and community leaders across the state are encouraging citizens to wear a mask to help save the lives and livelihoods of Georgians. In support, the Georgia Hospital Association, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and Central Atlanta Progress are leading a collaborative campaign called “Get Georgia Well,” working to inspire Georgians to do the right thing for everyone’s health and safety. This starts with the simple solution of adopting the “Three W’s:” Wear a mask; Watch your distance; Wash your hands.

Like buckling up seatbelts and strapping our children in car seats, wearing a mask is a public safety solution that will help ensure the health and well-being of Georgians by slowing the spread of COVID-19. Partner with your healthcare providers and communities to be part of the solution and Get Georgia Well.