CHARLOTTE — As the state of North Carolina announced a new, statewide requirement for people to wear masks while in public to help slow the spread of COVID-19, several of the state’s largest businesses are working to make sure it’s effective. At a recent news conference, Eugene A. Woods, Atrium Health president and CEO, noted the importance of masking as cases in the state continue to spike. He also announced a consortium of business leaders has committed to collectively donating 1 million masks, with an emphasis on getting them into the hands of underserved communities.
“I am extremely excited to announce that Atrium Health, together with the CEOs of Bank of America, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the Carolina Panthers, Honeywell, Lowe’s and Red Ventures, along with others that will be joining us in the coming weeks, have committed, collectively, to donate 1 million masks, which will be distributed to those most in need, and as an investment in health and economic recovery,” Woods said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the commitment shown by my business colleagues and leaders who have stepped up in such a large and meaningful way.”
People who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic for COVID-19 are capable of transmitting the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As a respiratory virus, it spreads through coughing, sneezing, even speaking, so masks are recommended for people in public, especially in areas where appropriate social distancing isn’t feasible or in areas with significant community-based transmission. Data from Mecklenburg County indicates roughly 100 new cases are being diagnosed daily and hospitalizations are increasing.
“It’s essential that businesses work in concert with health professionals so people can get back to work,” Woods said. “In fact, it is the key pathway to recovery. I had the chance to talk with other CEOs from some of the largest employers in this state this week about how we could work together to support masking, especially among our most vulnerable citizens — including communities of color who are being disproportionately affected by this disease. They said simply: ‘Count us in.’
“As the leader of the state’s largest health system, I am pro-health and also 100 percent pro-business. In fact, the two are inextricably connected,” said Woods. “I’m very proud of the way business leaders and health experts are working together to keep our economy strong. Medical science says to reduce the spread of COVID-19, masking works, and my sincere hope is that all the people of North Carolina can join forces to make wearing a mask not something we feel we have to do — but something that we want to do to keep each other, our neighbors, our children and our loved ones healthy and safe.”
Addressing health care disparities is a continuous objective for Atrium Health as part of its nonprofit, “for all” mission. During the COVID pandemic, it has focused multiple resources toward ensuring access to testing and care in underserved areas and communities of color, with considerable success.
Positive test rates at Atrium Health’s roving testing centers, which are staged based on geographical hot-spot data in underserved areas, typically run two times the rate or higher than positive test rates at its other testing centers, based on percentages.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.