During this most critical time when COVID-19 is converging with the start of flu season, the Chester County Board of Commissioners is launching a public health campaign called “Simple Ask: Wear a Mask.” The campaign will directly support local businesses and restaurants by providing funding as well as free toolkits including 10,000 masks, signage and other messaging.
“As the strongest economy in Pennsylvania, supporting the livelihoods of thousands of workers and their families, we are determined to control and even reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the flu this fall with the best tools available right now: face masks and funding,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “We cannot waiver and, in fact, must escalate our efforts during this critical time for restoring public health and economic well-being.”
Chester County launched its “Simple Ask: Wear a Mask” public health campaign on Thursday, during a free flu vaccine clinic that was fully registered and served almost 700 Chester County residents in a socially distanced setting at Kennett High School.
Leaders of the County’s chambers of commerce were presented with some of the 10,000 free face masks now at their disposal to distribute to small business employers, as well as free “Simple Ask: Wear a Mask” business signage, window decals, posters and customer appreciation stickers. Street banners will also be posted in Chester County boroughs and the City of Coatesville with lawn signs displayed at public buildings and major businesses. To access the “Simple Ask: Wear a Mask” toolkit and images, visit chesco.org/simpleask.
The Commissioners also announced direct funding for eligible chambers of commerce throughout the County, with grants totaling $150,000 to help them carry out their support of local businesses.
“This is the time to double down on our efforts, and Chester County is offering the resources to do it,” says Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell. “The World Health Organization has reported that worldwide circulation of influenza has been lower than expected so far, and the trend is largely attributable to social distancing and hygiene protocols implemented during COVID-19. With health care personnel working at capacity and infection testing focused on COVID-19, we cannot take unnecessary risks.”
The County also noted plans for $28 million in CARES funding to be rolled out in the next week to assist the mainstays of Chester County’s communities and economy, including $10 million for public schools, $10 million for childcare subsidy, $5 million for childcare programs and $3.5 million for nonprofits. All funding was approved by the Chester County Commissioners during Thursday’s Commissioners’ Public Meeting. Details on the specific uses of funding, recipients and distribution will be released over the next week.
In the meantime, the public is urged to join in the public health campaign #SimpleAskWearAMask by sharing the message while donning their own masks in social media postings.
“Increased interactions and indoor activity among businesses and families as we head into the holiday season are a major concern,” says Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “We’re also facing more complicated diagnoses, with symptoms that can appear similar between COVID-19 and the flu. That is why our messaging is friendly but firm, ‘Simple Ask: Wear a Mask.”
Businesses, nonprofits and other organizations can participate in the “Simple Ask: Wear a Mask” campaign by contacting their local chamber of commerce for toolkits that include a limited number of branded “Simple Ask” face masks available on a first come, first served basis. Plus 10,000 free disposable face masks, free “Simple Ask: Wear a Mask” business signage, window decals, posters and customer appreciation stickers. Corporate sponsors that would like to contribute free face masks to Chester County residents and businesses are encouraged to reach out to the county at [email protected].
According to the Centers for Disease Control, influenza activity begins to increase in October, with up to 56 million flu illnesses reported last flu season that began in October 2019. While the flu is a respiratory virus that is separate from COVID-19, public health officials are urging the use of face masks to limit the circulation of both viruses and reduce the risk of a double epidemic.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chester County has taken the lead in educating and protecting citizens and has consistently maintained some of the lowest levels of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. We can’t stop now,” says Moskowitz.