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Local Leaders Support Economic Reopening With “Protect. Respect. Wear Your Mask.” Campaign

MAY 20, 2020 -- A group of local leaders and community organizations is launching a campaign encouraging the public to “Protect. Respect. Wear Your Mask.” in public spaces in order to support local economic opening efforts and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The State of California recently agreed to new civic reopening guidelines for Santa Barbara County; they include the exclusion of Lompoc Prison inmate COVID-19 cases in official counts. Therefore, local businesses may have the opportunity to reopen soon. The Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce is joining with the cities of Santa Maria, Lompoc and Guadalupe, Marian Regional Medical Center, Allan Hancock College and other community stakeholders in promoting the “Protect. Respect. Wear Your Mask.” campaign to urge residents to protect themselves, their families, and community members from the virus.

“In order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus and support an open economy, we must all unite and continue practicing social safety measures – including wearing a mask when in public,” said Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Glenn Morris. “We are all understandably eager to get back to ‘normal’, and wearing a mask can help us get there more quickly.”

“We want our businesses and schools up and running as soon as possible,” said Santa Maria City Mayor Alice Patino. “Wearing a mask will help us get there faster.”

Since March 20, Northern Santa Barbara County cities have followed a statewide shelter-in-place order to help California “flatten the curve” and prevent the spread of COVID-19. More than 1,300 people in Santa Barbara County have been infected with the COVID-19 virus, resulting in 11 deaths.

“We encourage members of the public to take proper precautionary measures to stay healthy,” says Marian Regional Medical Center President and CEO, Sue Andersen. “Wearing the appropriate protective gear will help ensure you and your loved ones are safe and protected.”

In light of data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings.

The “Protect. Respect. Wear Your Mask.” campaign will utilize posters, flyers, video, and social media to ensure this important public health message is spread throughout Northern Santa Barbara County.

The coalition is also urging members of the public to help communicate this critical message to their friends and family. Wearing a mask will not only protect them, but other members of the community as well. Many local businesses are also asking customers to wear masks when shopping to protect the health and safety of other customers and the business employees.

For more information, visit www.ProtectRespect.org.

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