Tarrant County puts emphasis on masks with campaign

FWBP cover 07-27-20

Y’all Wear a Mask campaign


Original designs for the campaign came from Visit Fort Worth.

Who was that masked man? And woman? You’re seeing plenty of them now, though there are still some outliers.

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There’s a mask ordinance in place and Gov. Greg Abbott has warned that if the spread of the COVID-19 virus doesn’t slow, there could be another lockdown, but local officials hope and believe they are getting the word out. And that means there are more masks in the community to slow the spread.

But it takes time for the masks to have an impact. The area continues to see growth in COVID-19 deaths and cases. On Thursday, July 24, Tarrant County reported nine COVID-19 deaths and 431 new cases. Tarrant County now has 319 confirmed deaths from the COVID-19 virus. 11,710 people have recovered.

And the cases have been coming rapidly. Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja said the first 10,000 cases in Tarrant County took “106 days or about three and a half months.” The second 10,000 cases took only 21 days, he said, speaking to the Tarrant County Commissioners Court on July 21.

Masks are viewed as one key to stopping the spread of the virus.

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To emphasize the importance of the masks in slowing the spread of COVID-19, several leaders in Tarrant County have joined together on a “Wear a Mask, Y’all” campaign with public service announcements running on various media in both English and Spanish.

“We need to address this issue and address this in a way let people know that to get back into a quality of life and to keep businesses open and have business as usual, we’ve got to work to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price says she sees more people wearing a mask, particularly since the masking orders took effect.

“I’m seeing a change, but we’ve got to keep at it,” she said. “We can’t let up.:

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After Texas reopened in April, COVID-19 cases began to increase and in mid-July, Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate and an order shutting down bars. All those steps were to slow the spread of the virus, but Price noted it will take a few weeks before officials are likely to see a reversal in coronavirus case surges.

The Department of State Health Services reported a July 22 COVID-19 death toll that hit a record 197, beating the previous daily high of 174 deaths set the previous week. That brought the official coronavirus death toll in Texas to at least 4,348 total as of July 22.

The true number of cases in is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

Raising the number of cases in Tarrant County are the more than 500 women at a federal medical prison at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell in Fort Worth who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

The CDC analyzed data from an internet survey of a national sample of 503 adults during April 7-9 and found that about 62% said they would follow the newly-announced recommendations to wear a face mask when outside the home. A repeat survey May 11-13 showed that the percentage of adults endorsing face mask wearing increased to more than 76%.

The increase was driven largely by a significant jump in approval by white, non-Hispanic adults, from 54% to 75%. Approval among Black, non-Hispanic adults went up from 74% to 82%, and remained stable among Hispanic/Latino adults at 76% and 77%.

Trevino said masks have become a “Republican versus Democrat issue.”

“I hear all the time that ‘this is all going to be over after the November election,’ and that kind of stuff from people,” he said. “The misinformation is tough to fight.”

That’s one reason why several area leaders decided they needed a regional campaign.

“People don’t know when they cross from one border to the next and the virus doesn’t’ care, so we wanted a consistent message. We’re going to have our outliers, but we’ve got to do this.”