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LEHIGH VALLEY WEATHER

St. Luke’s supports mandatory masking at area schools as children return to classrooms after the holiday.

As the country sets daily records for positive COVID tests, masking can help slow the spread of the virus, including the highly contagious Omicron variant that now accounts for a majority of infections. This simple step will help to protect immunocompromised students and staff and help to prevent mass outbreaks and school closures.

“What we are experiencing now is our biggest COVID surge yet,” said Jeffrey Jahre, MD, St. Luke’s Senior Vice President of Medical & Academic Affairs and Section Chief Emeritus of Infectious Diseases. “If there was ever a time for area school boards, administrators and parents to get behind masking, it’s now.

Currently, area hospitals are caring for record or near-record numbers of COVID patients. Lines for Covid tests may be hours long.

As a reminder, if you develop a fever and symptoms such as a cough or difficulty breathing, call your doctor for medical advice. For St. Luke’s patients, please do one of the following:

• Call your St. Luke’s Physician Group practice.

• Download the St. Luke’s app to utilize the video visit feature to connect with a doctor.

For patients without a doctor, please call the St. Luke’s Coronavirus hotline at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 7.

Fully vaccinated and boosted individuals with mild non-progressive COVID symptoms such as a runny nose do not need to go to a hospital emergency department or urgent care center. Individuals experiencing more serious COVID symptoms such as difficulty breathing, sustained high fever, confusion or the inability to maintain adequate hydration should seek medical attention, and for such individuals a visit to a hospital emergency department or urgent care center may be appropriate.

Jahre noted that people who go to a hospital emergency department or urgent care location may experience longer wait times because of the ongoing surge in Covid-19 Omicron cases. “We ask people to be respectful to our staff, who are working diligently under very challenging circumstances,” he said.