CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Atrium Health has passed a significant milestone in its Million Mask Initiative, announcing today it has now distributed more than 1 million free masks in the Charlotte region. Of that, more than 700,000 masks have been distributed to the area's most vulnerable populations, including the Latinx and African American communities, the elderly and to at-risk youth.
In tandem with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's statewide face covering order, Atrium Health President and CEO Eugene A. Woods announced a newly-formed public-private Million Mask Initiative at a state capitol news conference in late June. Atrium Health forged a coalition with Mecklenburg County and several leading businesses in the region to distribute more than 2 million free masks in Charlotte and the surrounding communities, with a specific focus on those in high-vulnerability zip codes and to local small businesses.
"This is a tremendous feat of collaboration and execution by Atrium Health, business leaders, our non-profit partners, the County and our Charlotte Executive Leadership Council partners," said Dr. David Callaway, chief of operational and disaster medicine at Atrium Health. "This public-private partnership has become a national example of how business leaders, health professionals and government officials can work together to make a significant and positive impact on the community and spur our local economy."
As part of the latest free mask distribution events coordinated by Atrium Health, Gibbie Harris, the public health director for Mecklenburg County, accepted a framed, commemorative millionth mask to mark this significant achievement.
"I believe the work of our collective teams spanning the business, sports, health, government and non-profit communities to get masks into people's hands, modeling smart, safe behaviors and continuing to share the message of how masks save lives is having a real impact," said Harris.
The public health trends following the Governor's masking mandate are producing encouraging results. Across the state level, COVID-19 cases have dropped by 21% and the percent positive rate has dropped by 10%, with the improvements starting two weeks after the masking requirements were put into place. In Mecklenburg County specifically, where the Million Mask Initiative has been a primary focus, total daily positive test rates have dropped by over 60% and percent positive rates have fallen by more than 50%.
"The Million Mask Initiative has certainly been a contributing factor in helping Mecklenburg County slow the spread of COVID-19," said Harris.
"We need to make wearing masks the new normal, in order to continue to open the economy and keep everyone safe," added Callaway. "We are winning, but we haven't won the battle yet and need to remain vigilant. Just like we said when we started this initiative, masking is one simple thing you can do to protect yourself, but even more, protect those around you."
Atrium Health's Million Mask Initiative will continue to distribute free masks to the community. For more information about the Million Mask Initiative, including a list of locations and times when residents can pick up masks, as well as participating partners, please visit www.AtriumHealth.org/freemasks.
About Atrium Health
Atrium Health is a nationally recognized leader in shaping health outcomes through innovative research, education and compassionate patient care. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atrium Health is an integrated, not-for-profit healthcare system with over 55,000 teammates at nearly 40 hospitals and hundreds of care locations throughout the Carolinas and Georgia. Atrium Health provides top-ranked pediatric, cancer and heart care to patients, as well as specialized musculoskeletal programs and organ transplants. Ranked among U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals for cancer treatment and in eight different pediatric specialties, it has also received the American Hospital Association's Quest for Quality Prize and was the recipient of the 2020 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Equity Award for its efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in care. Its flagship hospital, Atrium Health's Carolinas Medical Center, is the region's only Level I trauma center and is consistently rated among the nation's best. Atrium Health is also a leading-edge innovator in virtual care and mobile medicine, providing care close to home and in the home. With a commitment to every community it serves, Atrium Health seeks to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all. Over the past three years, Atrium Health has provided nearly $2 billion per year in free and uncompensated care and other community benefits.
SOURCE Atrium Health