LMH updates mask requirements due to increased COVID transmission | New
Logansport Memorial Hospital announced Friday morning that patients, staff and visitors will resume wearing masks inside the hospital for at least the next week. The most recent mask mandate, which was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was enacted due to high transmission of COVID-19 in Cass County this week.
Masks will be required until Friday, October 28 at 9 a.m. At that time, hospital staff will check Cass County’s level of transmission and determine if masks should be worn inside the building.
“One week we may need masks, and the next week we may not need masks because the level of transmission has gone down,” said Carmen Jones, director of marketing and community relations. of LMH. “I realize that’s a lot of change in a short time, but we’re just following CDC guidelines and data that they’re following specifically for our county and surrounding counties where we have hospital services or clinics. “
The CDC currently advises hospitals and healthcare facilities to monitor transitional levels, or “the amount of COVID-19 spread in each county,” rather than community levels, which the CDC says can be used “to determine the impact of COVID-19 on communities and to take action.
“The transmission rate is the number of people in the community who have COVID,” said LMH Vice President of Planning and Development Vicki Byrd. “There are four levels: high, substantial, moderate and low. That has changed, and the CDC says when your transmission rate is at a high level, you should be masked.
Despite higher levels of transmission, Byrd said the number of COVID hospitalizations at LMH has not increased. The hospital hopes to keep that number low by following the CDC’s COVID recommendations and reducing transmission.
“Last week we were at the moderate level,” Byrd said. “It changes every Thursday evening at 8 p.m., and last night we went to the top level.”
Data for individual counties can be found online at https://covid.cdc.gov. Information is automatically sorted by COVID community levels, but drop-down menus above the website map allow individuals to search by different categories.
Jones added that the CDC’s website can be confusing and encouraged anyone using the website to make sure they’re looking at community transmission instead of COVID-19 community levels.
“It’s very difficult to use this website,” she says. “This is the link we need to use but you need to navigate a bit and use the drop down menu to change it because at first glance it looks like we are green and all is well but if you change it to what the CDC recommends to monitor and base for decisions, then it’s red and high, and that’s what we’re bound by.
COVID isn’t the only disease currently being monitored in Cass County. As the hospital tries to reduce the spread of COVID-19, other seasonal illnesses are also emerging. Byrd added that taking preventive measures against COVID could protect people against other common illnesses.
“We are seeing an increase in respiratory illnesses here at the hospital, and the flu is right around the corner for us,” she said. “We are obviously seeing an increase in COVID as well, so people need to monitor transmission levels and use the precautions that have been in place since COVID started.”
These precautions include wearing masks, social distancing, updating vaccines and boosters, avoiding people who have been diagnosed with COVID or other illnesses, and staying home and get tested if you have symptoms.
Most U.S. residents enrolled in an insurance plan can receive up to eight free COVID tests each month to test at home. According to a guide from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal government urged insurers to cover the full cost or reimbursement of approved tests earlier this year. Tests can be picked up in person at pharmacies or online.
“The most important thing is just to stay aware and use COVID precautions,” Byrd said. “We are entering this time of year when the flu and respiratory problems are much higher. (On the COVID map) we are red. Those around us are orange, which is significant. This area seems to tend to have a bit higher rate of transmission. The other piece, in addition to taking COVID precautions, is that if you haven’t been vaccinated before, or need to get a booster, we would encourage people to get vaccinated and get their boosters as well as to get vaccinated against the flu. ”
Byrd said people can usually get a flu shot and receive COVID shots or boosters at the same time by visiting the Cass County Health Department, a pharmacy or their primary care provider.
Jones also asked people to be patient with the hospital’s current mask requirements and to monitor changes weekly as information about COVID transmission in Cass County becomes available.
“That could change and it’s completely normal that we need masks one week and don’t need masks the next week,” Jones said. “We will do our best to get the information out to people week-to-week as information from the CDC changes and is updated.”