OMAHA, Neb. — According to the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), pulmonary and critical care medicine fellows Christopher Miller, D.O., Thomas Marston, M.D., and Nebraska Medicine critical care physician Daniel Hershberger, M.D., drafted a letter addressing the people of Nebraska. They distributed it to colleagues hoping to add signatures, but the letter quickly gained attention and it has been signed by more than 1,700 doctors and nurses.
The text of the letter is below:
In our lifetime, hospitals in Nebraska have always answered the call to provide high-quality health care to our patients. We have never had to imagine a time when hospitals could not provide lifesaving care for the patients who come through our doors. We, the health care providers of Nebraska, are concerned that this unimaginable time is fast approaching. We are nearing a dangerous period of this pandemic and fear that many more lives will be lost without action from all Nebraskans.
Nebraska currently has one of the fastest-growing outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States. We continue to add capacity to the hospitals. Currently, Nebraska Medicine has 10 units full of COVID-19 patients. We are not able to add more space and will soon not have the workforce to care for more patients. However, this dramatic climb in cases can be slowed. You can help us flatten the curve.
Wearing a mask is an effective way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently again showed that masks reduce the risk of spread to those around us and protect us from getting the virus. The data on mask use is clear – masks slow the transmission of COVID-19. We call on all Nebraskans to wear a mask anytime you leave your home, especially anytime you cannot socially distance from others.
We ask all Nebraskans to cut back on any unnecessary trips outside their homes. We need to socially distance to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19. Even people that do not show symptoms can still spread the virus. Social distancing can break this chain of transmission. We need to limit all gatherings to those just within our immediate households. Social distancing has economic impacts in our community, and we ask that Nebraskans support local businesses in any way you can through these challenging times.
No single health measure is 100% effective at stopping the spread of COVID. They must be used together. That is why we are asking all of you to take every action possible to limit the spread in our community and to save lives.
Your frontline health care workers are exhausted. We are scared that the hospitals won’t have the space and people to meet the ever-growing demand. We are seeing many deaths and will continue to see many more. Nebraskans have always been strong and hardworking people who have never failed to help our neighbors in the most challenging times. We call on Nebraskans to rise up once again to do everything we can for our state's health and safety. We believe in the people of this state. Your actions can save lives. We need you to wear masks, practice social distancing and limit the size of social gatherings. The life you save may be your own. We need you all to help those health care workers who dedicate their lives to save yours.