Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital are encouraging Eastern Iowans to rethink plans for traditional Thanksgiving gatherings. Hospital officials say the safest way to spend the holiday is to celebrate only with individuals in the immediate household. This echoes similar guidance shared Monday evening by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.
The recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is prompting hospital officials to share this unified message. Both hospitals are caring for record numbers of COVID-19 patients and the number of cases is expected to increase in the coming days and weeks.
“Limiting holiday gathering this year to immediate family will help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Dustin Arnold, UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital chief medical officer. “It is another significant sacrifice to ask people to make; however, one that will ultimately save lives.”
“In addition to keeping community members safe over the holidays, our focus is also on keeping our workforce healthy,” said Dr. Tony Myers, vice president of quality, risk and medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center. “We are in a situation where we absolutely need our healthcare workers to be able to care for patients. It’s in everyone’s best interest to be as safe as possible over the holidays.”
An additional measure individuals can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is to limit trips outside of the home whenever possible. If people do venture out, they are encouraged to put these public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into practice:
- Wear a mask and keep your nose and mouth covered in public settings.
- Stay at least six feet apart (about two arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Families looking for alternative ways to safely celebrate the holidays can consider using Zoom, FaceTime or other video platforms, to connect with family and friends virtually.