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Consider it an uninvited Sundance guest.
As the flu wreaks havoc nationwide, the Park City Medical Center is trying to keep the pesky virus from crashing the party by handing out 5,000 free bottles of hand sanitizer.
An estimated 50,000 people including such stars as Ashton Kutcher, Daniel Radcliffe and Jessica Biel will descend on the Utah town this week for the Sundance Film Festival, coinciding with a flu epidemic that is clogging emergency rooms coast to coast. PCMC brass say the quaint mountain burg will become a giant Petri dish — with festival-goers shaking hands, riding public transportation and unknowingly spreading germs. The medical center also will be staffing up its emergency room to brace for the extra number of people in town during the festival.
“We know that one of the best ways to prevent the flu is frequent hand sanitizing, so we will be giving out free bottles of hand sanitizers to some of the hotels, restaurants and transportation companies,” said hospital CEO Rob Allen. “If people slip these into their pockets or purses and use them to clean their hands, it really will help them to stay healthy and enjoy the film festival.”
Still, demand for hand sanitizer will likely exceed supply, so festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own, as well.
Hollywood has proved that it is not immune from the flu.
The flu has ripped through the Paramount lot in Los Angeles, with several vaccinated staffers still getting sick.
And at this week’s Golden Globe Awards, a number of presenters and winners referenced the bug. Nominee Meryl Streep could not attend after coming down with the flu, while Jennifer Lawrence told Al Roker on the red carpet that she, too, was suffering from the virus (Roker noticeably backed away). And HughJackman, who won the award for best actor in a comedy or musical for his role in Les Mis, joked during his acceptance speech that he was in recovery mode: “I was kicking myself for not getting a flu shot, but it appears you don’t need one. I feel great.”
As for Sundance, the PCMC is urging fest-goers to:
· Get a flu vaccine. (It’s not too late.)
· Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
· Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
· Get plenty of sleep and exercise, drink lots of water, and eat healthy foods.
(Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.)
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