Sentara Recommends Community Masking Due to Flu Levels

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Provided by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Public health officials in Virginia report seasonal influenza is at widespread levels.

Effective immediately, Sentara Healthcare asks all patients and visitors, including those seeking outpatient services, to wear a mask inside its hospitals, medical facilities and physician practices to protect the community from the spread of flu. Masks and hand sanitizer are available at all facility entrances for public use.

All patients and visitors, even those who already had a flu vaccine, are strongly encouraged to wear masks inside healthcare facilities. The flu vaccine is the best prevention available but is not 100 percent effective. Masking provides an added layer of protection from the potentially deadly disease.

As a healthcare provider, our goal is to protect the community from disease. Data suggests an infected persoPublic health officials in Virginia report seasonal influenza is at widespread levels.n can spread the virus for as long as 24 hours before experiencing symptoms. Our masking recommendation helps protect our patients, visitors and staff from the exposure to flu, even before symptoms are noticeable.

Individuals experiencing flu-like symptoms are asked to stay at home and refrain from visiting patients at the hospital. Symptoms of flu include fever and respiratory illness symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, chills, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

The recommendation to wear a mask when entering healthcare facilities will remain in effect during flu season for as long as the disease is at widespread levels. Additional measures to limit the spread of disease, especially flu, include washing hands frequently, staying home when sick, getting vaccinated and coughing into sleeves or tissues.

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