New Oakland County campaign hopes to reinforce COVID-19 safety guidelines

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published December 15, 2020

 A digital poster created for Oakland County’s “The Only Way To Beat It Is To Face It” campaign reminds residents to mask up and follow other COVID-19 safety protocols.

A digital poster created for Oakland County’s “The Only Way To Beat It Is To Face It” campaign reminds residents to mask up and follow other COVID-19 safety protocols.

Image provided by Oakland County

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OAKLAND COUNTY — A new multimedia public education campaign created by Oakland County officials aims to reinforce the health safety guidelines issued for the COVID-19 pandemic in hopes that the county can continue to slow the spread of the virus.

The campaign, titled “The Only Way To Beat It Is To Face It,” is meant to reinforce the practicality of wearing a mask, acknowledge the potential positive case spikes the county could see in the coming weeks, and highlight why it’s necessary to embrace public health measures that will help beat the pandemic, a press release states.

“I know there’s fatigue around COVID. We’re very mindful of that. We’re all tired of dealing with this, but the virus is not tired of us yet,” Oakland County Executive David Coulter said Dec. 8 during the campaign’s announcement. “We have it within our power to stop the spread of this virus if we do what we know we need to do. We’re determined to convey a unified, positive message that everyone can rally around in these next few weeks and months.”

The campaign, which costs approximately $200,000 and is being funded through Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding allocated to the county, will run until Dec. 31 through a variety of mediums, including print and digital marketing, TV commercials, radio placements, and more.

Acknowledging that residents may be tired of hearing him and Oakland County Health Officer Leigh-Anne Stafford tell them to wear a mask, Coulter has tapped a handful of local celebrities to continue spreading the message with him. The campaign will feature cameos from former Detroit Lions player Lomas Brown Jr., Detroit Red Wings player Darren McCarty, Olympic figure skating champion Merryl Davis and others.

“I’m also going to invite local community and government leaders to participate in this, as well,” Coulter said. “The message of all this is we’re in this together, and we can do this together.”

Brown said the fight ahead reminds him of his days playing with his teammates at Ford Field.

“That’s how we have to look at this today, as a community. We have to look at this as one. We have to look at it as we’re taking care of each other,” he said.

“I think, as citizens and responsible adults, the least we can do is mask up,” he added. “Something as simple as putting on and keeping on a mask can save a lot of lives, save a lot of stress and can really go a long way in us trying to solve this problem that we’re in right now.”

In November, the county saw 17,862 new confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, equating to roughly 45% of the total positive cases the county has recorded since it began collecting data in March. Stafford said that, as of Dec. 6, those rates seemed to have dropped, going from a seven-day average of approximately 5,100 cases in the previous week to 4,200 cases per week the week of Dec. 6.

“This is good news. It shows that our Oakland County residents are working hard to make a difference, but we cannot let our guard down,” she said. “We must continue to follow the recommendations and guidelines set by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with their new epidemic order. This will continue to help us trend downward and reduce our cases.”

Despite a reduction of numbers through the last couple weeks, Stafford acknowledged that spikes from Thanksgiving gatherings and other holiday gatherings to come have not yet materialized.

“This virus is not in the hospitals anymore. It’s in our community, and we need the community to help us,” said Clinical Nurse Kelly Miller, who works at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac. “We need the community to take this virus seriously. Help is on the way. We have vaccines now that are coming very soon, but not soon enough.

“We have not yet seen the post-Thanksgiving surge that we expect to see in a few weeks, and we have not yet seen the holidays either, and the vaccine will not be here in time. I urge everybody to please do our part and work together. Please take COVID-19 seriously.”

Oakland County Commissioner Mike Spisz, R-Oxford, the incoming leader of the Republican caucus, also stepped to the podium Dec. 8 to encourage residents on both sides of the aisle to take the virus seriously.

“It can happen to any of us,” Spisz said, adding that he and his wife contracted the virus. “Any time, any place. So I’m here to encourage everyone to come together. It will take all of us to keep each other safe so that we can recover from this pandemic, and we can begin to get back to normal, including our economy.

“All of us that are looked upon by the public eye need to lead by example and continue to provide guidance and safety to all of those around us,” he said.

The campaign’s messaging will ultimately transition into educational awareness and more information about the COVID-19 vaccines that the county expects to receive; the limited supply will first be administered to frontline workers.

“We have to continue to exercise caution and safety. This winter is going to be tough, and we have to be tougher. We have to be Lomas Brown tough about this virus this winter. It’s going to take months,” he said about a vaccine becoming available to the general public.

For more information, visit oakgov.com.

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