Michigan hospitals urge residents to follow three easy steps to stop COVID-19

There's a new Big 3 in Michigan, and it's got nothing to do with automotive manufacturers in Detroit.

That doesn't mean residents haven't heard of them, however. In fact, they've played as significant a role in Michigan as Ford, General Motors, and Fiat-Chrysler has this year.

They're masking up, social distancing, and hand hygiene.

"This is a controllable pathogen if we do the basic control steps of masking, of social distancing, of hand hygiene, as your big 3 and we can turn this around," said Beaumont John Fox.

"But at the current rate, it's not turning and can be a much more serious situation," he added.

During a virtual press conference on Thursday between Michigan's major hospital CEOs, leaders from Beaumont, Henry Ford Health Systems, Spectrum, and elsewhere implored residents to abide by CDC and MDHHS recommendations.

Brian Peters, the CEO of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association which represents the individual and public health structures of all of Michigan warned that if precautions weren't taken more seriously soon, the state could face conditions similar to what occurred in early spring.

"It's from that vantage point I can tell you very clearly that we are squarely in the mix of a public health crisis," said Michigan Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters. 

"While there's no silver bullet for COVID-19, we clearly know that some things work. We clearly know that wearing masks work. We know social distancing helps. We clearly know that hand hygiene helps you remove pathogens from your hands," said Wright Lassiter III, CEO of HFHS. "And we clearly know that removing yourself from large gatherings where the spread is possible will help."

While handwashing, masking up, and social distancing were recommendations many of the state and country's top health agencies advised following early during the pandemic, studies have increasingly shown they prove to be primary tools in curbing the spread of the virus.

RELATED: Michigan health leaders warn of "exponential increase" in COVID-19, sound alarm on hospital capacity

Fox said that was evident by the lack of spread of COVID-19 within hospitals, where personal protective equipment is mandatory. 

But in social settings, and increasingly in small and medium-size gatherings among family and friends, people stop being so careful.

"Our concern is what you don't see is the small and medium-sized group gatherings indoors - these private gatherings, friends, family, colleagues, that get together in these group settings we aren't seeing that (mask-wearing)," said Peters. 

Beyond the day-to-day struggles of keeping people from getting too close, Peters says there's a larger problem about residents ignoring science and recommendations made by experts.

"I know there's a saying in business that 'culture eats strategy for lunch,' I think the parallel here is regardless of what the law says, if people aren't convinced that doing something is the right thing, then they're not going to do it when no one's watching," said Peters. "It's no different than seatbelt usage."

RELATED: Beaumont doctor puts Michigan's rising COVID numbers into context

"We need to get to a place culturally where people understand the science and believe in the science that masking and social distancing works," he added.

As a reminder, wearing a mask works. Studies show a regular cloth mask can be 67% effective. For masks with multiple layers or have a polyester material, as well as N95 masks that health care workers use, their effectiveness climbs as high as 90%.

Also as a reminder, remaining socially distant from other people also works. A review of studies about the effectiveness of physical distancing from one another found a separation of one meter (3.2 feet) was "associated with a large reduction (in transmission)..." Remaining six feet apart is even more effective.

Also, also as a reminder, washing your hands with soap works. The activity physically removes any pathogens from your hands.