The coronavirus continues to spread across the country. Death rates are on the rise nationally, and some communities are experiencing hospital capacity issues as a result. According to CDC guidelines, one way to help reduce the spread is to wear a mask. Dr. Redfield, director of the CDC stated that
“[wearing a face covering] is our best weapon to intervene with human-to-human transmission right now.”
Yet, despite the data and scientific advice, the choice to wear a mask has become controversial in some communities.
So, how do we, as non-partisan public servants, avoid becoming embroiled in the political debates regarding wearing facial coverings? The simple reality is, we can’t. Not completely anyway. However, what we can do is avoid engaging the debate directly, and instead, present mask-wearing as a normal behavior. And that means, being public about wearing a mask in public.
To that end, ICMA is launching a new social media initiative aimed at normalizing the perception of wearing a mask. We want to see selfies posted on your social media platforms where people are wearing a mask in your community. Show your employees out in the community wearing a mask. Encourage citizens to post images of themselves out wearing a mask. Take a picture at a famous landmark, the local farmer’s market, a city park, waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting at the tax counter, working at the permit office, anywhere you find yourself, take a selfie with a mask, and share it on your social media platform with the hashtag #WeWearIt4U. We will share images on our ICMA Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram platforms and amplify your social media reach.
At this point, everyone has heard the facts. They know the data. They may or may not choose to wear a mask. We hope people do. Not because it’s political, but because that is what the experts say is the best tool we have right now. Ultimately, wearing a mask is about protecting others. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky noted, “Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter.”
We wear a mask. Not out of fear. Not as political statements. But to do our part to protect the community. When we wear a mask, #WeWearIt4U!