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Health Options’ Annual Member Meeting Featured Maine CDC Director

Nov 25, 2020
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Community Health Options (Health Options) gathered for its 2020 Annual Member Meeting via webinar on November 19. Typically an in-person gathering, this year’s virtual meeting was made notable with Health Options’ having the honor of hosting Maine Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, as guest speaker.

Health Options’ CEO and President Kevin Lewis provided a review of newly elected board members, 2020 achievements and financial results, and welcomed Dr. Shah, who shared his perspective on leading Maine’s statewide response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, from early public health actions to small town outbreaks and the current resurgence.

Dr. Shah has gained local and national notoriety for his no-nonsense approach to educating Maine people about the risks and necessary precautions of living with COVID-19. In an interview with Scientific American, he said sharing hard facts and asking for simple calls to action, such as mask-wearing, helped keep infection rates low.

“In public health, our first and most important job is to get the people behind us,” said Dr. Shah.

Dr. Shah gave advice for planning safe holiday gatherings:

  • It’s best to postpone big holiday gatherings this year, or gather for socially-distanced outdoor activities, if you are able.
  • If you have college children or family members traveling from other parts of the country, a recommended timeline for testing is 72 hours before travel, followed by 14 days of quarantine.
  • Don’t overthink face masks: the best face mask has multiple layers, is washable, fits snugly and is designed to cover the nose and mouth.
  • With effective vaccines on the near horizon, we can look forward to more holiday gatherings in 2021, but must bear in mind that national vaccine distribution will be a massive effort and will take many months to reach the general population.

“It’s a critical time to be part of the healthcare community. From local pharmacies, to state and national healthcare policy makers, we are all in this together,” said Lewis. “Dr. Shah reminded us that each of our actions count when it comes to keeping our communities as safe and healthy as possible through the holidays and beyond. As a community-oriented non-profit healthcare insurance provider, working together is something we take seriously every day, especially now.”

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe.

SEE ALSO

As of May 1, 2020, all Mainers are required to wear a cloth face covering when out in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, per order of Governor Mills. The order identifies public settings as:

  • Indoor spaces that are accessible to the public such as grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies and healthcare facilities
  • Outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, busy parking lots, and other areas such as lines for takeout service where the public typically gathers in a smaller area
  • Public transportation such as a taxi, Uber, Lyft, ride-sharing or similar service
  • Ferry, bus, or train
  • Any semi-enclosed transit stops or waiting areas

Cloth face coverings are not required for children under age 2, a child in a child-care setting, or for anyone who has trouble breathing or related medical conditions, or who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Wearing a cloth face mask is mostly to protect other people from getting sick. Physical distancing, covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze, and hand washing are still the primary way to prevent you from being infected with COVID-19.