Recently four northern Virginia health care organizations have launched a public service campaign featuring the hashtag #MaskUpNOVA to encourage area residents to wear face masks in public.

HCA Northern Virginia, Inova Health System, Novant Health UVA Health System and Virginia Hospital Center teamed up to distribute print, digital and social media public-service announcements stressing the importance of wearing face masks to inhibit the spread of COVID-19. In a recent statement released by the organizations, they encourage the community to continue wearing face coverings so that we can reduce the transmission of the virus and save lives:

We are in this together. It doesn’t matter your political affiliation, what you do for a living, who you work for, where you live, or how much money you have. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all fighting the same battle—to protect one another and ourselves from a virus for which there is not yet a vaccine or a cure. The best possible weapon in stopping this invisible threat are simple steps we can all take.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep a physical distance.

By wearing a mask, you significantly reduce the risk of spreading the virus if you have it–with or without symptoms–and of contracting a virus which continues to put our loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers in hospitals, on ventilators, and in some cases fighting for their lives.

Science has proven that masks are effective in slowing the transmission of the virus. In communities where mask adoption has been embraced, statistics show a reduction in death and infection.

In Northern Virginia, we are succeeding, which is one of the reasons we have been able to progress to Phase 3, and why our infection and death rates have remained stable and relatively low. Yet, we are not out of the woods.

This virus is still a huge risk. As we are seeing in other parts of the country, it can surge when we let down our guard by not wearing masks in outdoor and indoor public spaces where we will encounter others. We must keep at it, because wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing is working.

Recent studies in Health Affairs, The Lancet, and other medical journals, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask adoption in various states. They show that mask adoption led to a significant slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate over time. Internationally, countries that have embraced wearing masks or mandated them have had a significantly lower death rate due to COVID-19.

That’s why we are here. As the Chief Medical Officers of the major health care organizations in Northern Virginia, and on behalf of the thousands of doctors, nurses, and employees throughout our health systems, we are in this together. But clearly, we can’t do it alone.

Please help us to keep our communities safe by sharing the enclosed message on your social media channels and on your website.

Together we will overcome this challenge and emerge a stronger community when we put the health of each other first.

To help reinforce their message, we encourage you to share the images below on your social media, using the hashtag #MaskUpNOVA.  Together, we can help save lives!

See their full statement here.