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Free Halloween Lyft Rides Offered throughout Prince George’s County to Prevent Drunk Driving
Nearly Half of U.S. Highway Deaths on Halloween Involve Drunk Drivers

By TAMMY WAN
Washington Regional Alcohol Program

Upper Marlboro (October 8, 2019)—Preparing to combat that time of year when, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly half (42%) of all U.S. traffic deaths involve drunk drivers*, free Halloween Lyft rides will be offered to deter impaired driving throughout Prince George’s County, Maryland beginning Saturday, October 26, 2019.

Offered by the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), the 2019 Halloween SoberRide® program will be in operation beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday, October 26 until 4 a.m. Sunday, October 27, 2019 as a way to keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk holiday.

During this six-hour period, area residents age 21 and older celebrating with alcohol may download Lyft to their phones, then enter a SoberRide® code in the app’s “Promo” section to receive their no cost (up to $15) safe transportation home. WRAP’s Halloween SoberRide® promo code will be posted at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 26 on www.SoberRide.com.

Last year, 387 persons in the Washington-metropolitan area used WRAP’s Halloween SoberRide® program rather than possibly driving home impaired. The charity also offers its SoberRide® program on St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day and the winter holidays.

“Nearly half (42%) of all U.S. traffic fatalities during Halloween from 2013 to 2017 involved drunk drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, WRAP’s President.

SoberRide® is offered throughout Lyft’s Washington, D.C. coverage area which includes all or parts of: the District of Columbia; the Maryland counties of Montgomery and Prince George’s; and the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William.

“Lyft is proud of the role ridesharing has played in reducing impaired driving across the nation. Here in the DC area, partnering with the Washington Regional Alcohol Program allows us to take our commitment to providing reliable, convenient, and responsible transportation a step further, particularly during times of the year when people are out celebrating and in need of a ride home,” said Steve Taylor, GM, Lyft Washington, D.C.

Sponsors of this year’s Halloween SoberRide® campaign include the 395 Express Lanes, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Anheuser-Busch, Brown-Forman, Constellation Brands, District of Columbia Association of Beverage Alcohol Wholesalers, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Giant Food, Glory Days Grill, Lyft, MillerCoors, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association.

Since 1991, WRAP’s SoberRide® program has provided 77,804 free safe rides home to would-be drunk drivers in the Greater Washington area.

Founded in 1982, the nonprofit [501(c)(3)] Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is a coalition of diverse interests using effective education, innovative programs and targeted advocacy to end alcohol-impaired driving and underage drinking in the Washington, DC metro area. Through public education, innovative health education programs and advocacy, WRAP is credited with keeping the metro-Washington area’s alcohol-related traffic deaths historically lower than the national average.

More information about WRAP’s SoberRide® initiative can be found at www.SoberRide.com.

*Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, see:

https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/drunk-driving/buzzed-driving-drunk-driving/halloween

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Maryland Health Department Confirms Season’s First Flu Cases; Urges all Marylanders to Get Flu Shots

By PRESS OFFICER
The Maryland Department of Health

Baltimore, Md. (October 8, 2019)—The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) urges Marylanders to get vaccinated against influenza, as the flu season has already begun, with 11 laboratory confirmed cases identified since September 1.

The majority of the cases so far have been subtyped as influenza A (H3N2), with a few classified as influenza B. The vaccine protects against both influenza A and B. 

“We don’t know yet whether flu activity this early indicates a particularly bad season on the horizon,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “Still, we can’t emphasize strongly enough—get your flu shot now. Don’t put it off. The vaccine is widely available at grocery stores, pharmacies and local health clinics, in addition to your doctor’s office.”

Influenza is a contagious respiratory disease that may lead to serious complications, hospitalization, and even death. Although most influenza cases are mild and people recover with little to no complications, influenza can pose a serious risk for children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems.

During last year’s influenza season, 3,274 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 82 influenza-associated deaths were reported to the MDH, including four deaths of individuals under the age of 18.

The influenza virus spreads from person to person through coughing or sneezing, as well as through contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces and objects. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sore throat. Symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu shot. Getting vaccinated every year is important because the strains change over time,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Fran Phillips. “Also, keep in mind that it takes about two weeks after being vaccinated before the body’s full immune response kicks in.”

Influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older. It is especially important for individuals who are at high risk for influenza-related complications including:

• Children 6 months through 5 years old;

• People over 50 years old;

• Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders;

• People who are immunocompromised;

• Women who are or will become pregnant during the flu season;

• Children and adolescents who are receiving aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications and who might be at risk for Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;

• Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;

• People who are extremely obese (body mass index more than 40 for adults).

If you think you have the flu:

• Contact your health care provider to help manage symptoms or complications

• Get rest and drink plenty of fluids

• Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing

• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wash your hands often

• Stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the flu

For more information on prevention, visit https://www.cdc.gov/

flu/prevent/index.html. Stay up-to-date on influenza activity in Maryland by visiting https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/influenza/fluwatch/.

The online Maryland Resident Influenza Tracking Survey (MRITS) was designed to enhance existing influenza surveillance by monitoring influenza-like illnesses among those who may not seek medical care. Sign up at http://flusurvey.health.maryland.gov/. For more information about the seriousness of influenza and benefits of vaccination, visit https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/influenza/ or http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ or call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO.

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