For Immediate Release October 05, 2020

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The University of Maryland Medical System today released an internally-produced Public Service Announcement, "Party Foul," designed to call attention to the dangers and risks of socializing during the global pandemic without taking proper precautions. The PSA was created by the System's Creative Communications team and is being shared with media outlets across the state and posted on social media accounts for UMMS' member organizations.

"The message is quite simple: People may have COVID-19 and not know – even your friends at a bar or restaurant," said David Marcozzi, MD, COVID-19 Incident Commander for UMMS, Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Population Health within the Department of Emergency Medicine at the UM School of Medicine (SOM) and Assistant Chief Medical Officer for Acute Care at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "No age group is immune. Try and meet outside and make sure you wear a mask, keep at least six feet apart from non-household contacts and maintain good hand hygiene even when going out. Not keeping yourself and others safe at a party or bar has always been a party foul, just now we also need to think about COVID-19." Dr. Marcozzi noted a recent CDC report showed adults with positive COVID-19 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those with negative results.

"We felt it was important to speak directly to younger people about staying safe and healthy," said Mohan Suntha, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer of UMMS. "Throughout this pandemic, our hospitals have seen patients in their 20s and 30s in our emergency departments and intensive care units. It is not just the elderly with underlying conditions who end up needing ventilators and advanced life support."

The release of the PSA comes as new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been released showing that coronavirus infections among young adults jumped from August to September. From Aug. 2 to Sept. 5, weekly coronavirus cases among people aged 18-22 years increased 55% nationally, according to the study, which analyzed data on probable and confirmed cases from health departments across the country.

"I can't express enough how important wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands is right now," said Abigail Gatch BSN, RN, CCRN, Assistant Nurse Manager of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Gatch, who is 29-years-old, added, "I have cared for patients who are the same age as me or younger and it is heart wrenching. Unfortunately, you can't predict who will be affected and how severely. You may be asymptomatic and not have any long term effects of this disease or you may require a breathing tube, large IVs in your neck, and have to deal with complications for the rest of your life. I think balancing your mental well-being with socializing is important, but it has to be done smartly. Change the way you spend time with your friends and extended family. Go to a park so you can space out or schedule a virtual brunch!"

"We need to remember that there are plenty of people who are asymptomatic and continue to spread the virus without evening knowing they are doing that," said Michelle Gourdine, MD, Interim Chief Medical Officer for UMMS. "This PSA is intended to speak directly to those people who are going to bars and parties. We all saw the spring break parties on TV and it made many of us fearful. Many of us want to be social, but we need to be responsible about it by wearing masks and staying socially distant. Using neon graphics, we hope we can catch the attention of a younger crowd, and ultimately we want people to think twice before engaging in risky behavior."

This summer, Governor Larry Hogan reported that through contact tracing, state health officials determined that the three types of gatherings posing the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission included family gatherings (44%), house parties (23%) and outdoor events (21%).

About the University of Maryland Medical System

The University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) is a university-based regional health care system focused on serving the health care needs of Maryland, bringing innovation, discovery and research to the care we provide and educating the state's future physician and health care professionals through our partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the UM Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and Dentistry in Baltimore. As one of the largest private employers in the State, the health system's 28,000 employees and 4,000 affiliated physicians provide primary and specialty care in more than 150 locations and at 13 hospitals. UMMS' flagship academic campus, the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore is partnered with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is recognized regionally and nationally for excellence and innovation in specialized care. Our acute care and specialty rehabilitation hospitals serve urban, suburban and rural communities and are located in 13 counties across the State. In addition, UMMS operates health insurance plans serving Medicare and Medicaid members. For more information, visit www.umms.org.

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