CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - 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 that will go into effect on Friday, several of the state’s largest businesses are working to make sure it’s effective.
Atrium Health President and CEO Eugene A. Woods announced a group of business leaders have committed to collectively donating 1 million masks, with an emphasis on getting them into the hands of underserved communities.
“Today I am extremely excited to announce that Atrium Health, together with the CEOs of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, 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,” said Woods. “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.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic for COVID-19 are capable of transmitting the virus. 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 possible 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,” added Woods. “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.”
Addressing healthcare disparities is a continuous objective for Atrium Health, as part of its non-profit, “for all” mission. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has focused multiple resources towards ensuring access to testing and care in underserved areas.