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COVID-19 is Not Over

The issue of masking and the benefit of it has sure become a topic of public discussion. You see responses on all ends of the spectrum when it comes to how people are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Large groups of people are now gathering and mingling about, without any visible precautions such as wearing masks or social distancing, yet most restaurants and retail establishments are abiding by the regulations and making their environments as safe as possible for patrons. Nationwide, we are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 in some states where everything was opened up. Some states and Minnesota cities are now requiring masking. The median age of COVID-19-infected people has dropped from 65 in March to 35 years old in June. Although things are slowly reopening in our communities, we must not relapse to a pre-pandemic mindset. COVID-19 is not cancelled.

Part of the reason for the relapse could be due to a term called “caution fatigue,” which occurs when people show low motivation to comply with safety guidelines. Over time, it’s natural for us to get accustomed to things – even threatening things like COVID-19. We get complacent and stop paying as much attention to the things that keep us and our loved ones safe. It takes a lot of energy to stay vigilant, but we need to make it a priority.

At Lakewood Health System, we continue to take COVID-19 seriously, which means taking precautions for the safety of all. No one is exempt from contracting the virus. There is evidence that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission are possible. That’s why we are still mandating mask-wearing for staff, patients and visitors to all Lakewood facilities. There are a couple of exceptions, such as children under two years of age and patients with certain medical conditions. But it’s pretty simple: if you want or need to be seen by our medical staff, plan to wear a mask.

One of the biggest challenges for our patients and residents has been the inability to have visitors. While following specific Minnesota Department of Health guidelines, we are now able to modify restrictions in certain areas of our organization and allow limited visits if screening and masking guidelines are followed. Hospital inpatients and emergency department patients will now be allowed one visitor per stay, depending on patient condition. Monitored outdoor visitation has started at our care center, Pines and Manor (assisted living units) and Reflections (behavioral health unit). There are still restrictions on visitors to our clinics, outpatient/surgery, and labor and delivery units. With caution, we are excited to welcome back visitors and thank you for respecting the guidelines that are in place.

There are many things we can’t control in the situation of a pandemic. Some even say the virus is in charge, and we are not. But there are things we can control, and we need to be vigilant about them and not let caution fatigue get the best of us. We all need to continue to do our part to ensure others around us are safe. A little inconvenience or discomfort on our part by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands, will go a long way in protecting others. The virus won’t be disappearing anytime soon, so we all need to do our part to protect our community.

Tim Rice
President and CEO
Lakewood Health System