As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are all fighting the same battle—to protect one another, and ourselves, from a virus for which there is no vaccine and no cure. The best possible weapon in stopping this invisible threat is to wear a mask.

Science has proven that wearing a mask significantly reduces the risk of spreading the disease and contracting it. Recent studies in medical journals, including Health Affairs and The Lancet, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in various states. Results show that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate over time. Health Affairs data suggested the first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percent compared to the five days prior to the mandate, and at three weeks, the daily growth rate had slowed by 2 percent. Internationally, countries that have embraced wearing masks or mandated them have had a significantly lower death rate due to COVID-19.

In Central Virginia, we are seeing infection and death rates stabilize and remain relatively low compared to other states, which is one of the reasons our region has been able to progress to Phase 3. Yet, we are not out of the woods. 

As seen in other parts of the country, COVID-19 can surge if masks are not worn in outdoor or indoor spaces where we encounter others. We must keep at it, because masks are working.

As clinical leaders in the major health care systems in Richmond, and on behalf of the thousands of doctors, nurses and employees throughout our health systems, we urge you to help to keep your communities safe and reduce the painful scenes we see in our facilities each day due to this awful virus.

Save a life and #MaskUpRVA. Together, we can overcome this challenge.