On behalf of hospitals, we wish to thank Gov. Doug Burgum for supporting our health care staff as they continue the fight against COVID-19. By requiring masks, reducing restaurant and bar capacity and limiting hours, and temporarily pausing high school sports, we can slow the spread of the virus, keep schools open, and avail hospitals being overrun. It will take all of us working together though.

We are seeing a significant increase in cases and hospitalizations, which puts incredible stress on doctors, nurses and support staff. When you wear a mask, you support these health care heroes. When you wear a mask, you help ensure that there will be hospital beds and staff to take care of patients – whether they have COVID-19, a heart attack, stroke, car accident, or other serious health problem. When you wear a mask, you choose facts over fear.

Masks aren’t perfect, but they help reduce the release of virus-laden droplets from our mouths and noses. One study, for example, of an outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt – which has congregate living quarters and a close working environment – found that use of face coverings was associated with a 70% reduced risk. Imagine if we reduced the spread that much just by the simple act of wearing a mask.

We are all tired of how this virus has affected us. Especially tired are the health care workers who have been working overtime for months. We cannot create more nurses and doctors to take care of an ever-increasing number of patients. The current path is unsustainable. We must slow the spread.

Please help yourself, your neighbors, and our health care workers by wearing a mask, washing your hands and avoiding gatherings. This won’t last forever. Let's take care of each other in the meantime.

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Herman is chairman of the North Dakota Hospital Association. Blasl is president of the association.