|The COVID-19 outbreak has shut down businesses, causing unsafe health environments for those that remain open and impacting local economies.|
|Focus on health and safety standards to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus for businesses and county residents.|
The message during the COVID-19 outbreak to businesses and residents in Berks County, Pa., is simple: “Do Your Part— Stop the Spread!”
Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach launched the campaign and is asking businesses, county residents and others to follow effective health and safety standards to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In March, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, like others across the country, closed all non-essential businesses throughout the state. The state health secretary laid out safety measures April 5, but Leinbach wanted to hammer home a message to local businesses to flatten the curve to slow the rate of infection.
Some of the life-sustaining businesses such as grocery stores and home improvement stores that remained open were packed with customers, Leinbach said, noting that some were not practicing proper social distancing. He added that there was no sanitization, masks or protection for employees or customers.
“As a result, we said these businesses are becoming a petri dish for COVID-19 spread,” he said.
Following the county’s emergency declaration, the Berks COVID-19 Leadership Council formed. Each team member took on a different role and Leinbach, who has a background in advertising, became the public information officer.
Leinbach worked with Kim Woerle, a former colleague and friend, who designed posters and a website for the campaign at no charge. The “Do Your Part— Stop the Spread” campaign and website, DoYourPartBerks.com, launched on April 17.
“I’m concerned about our residents’ health and safety,” Leinbach said. “We need businesses to step up and do the same thing.”
The posters, in both English and Spanish, provide information on how businesses can stop the spread of the virus and rules for social distancing, wearing masks and having proper hygiene. One poster for businesses to display in storefronts reads: “We’re doing our part supporting our county businesses following health and safety regulations.”
On the campaign’s website, local businesses submitted photos to show they are participating in the campaign and doing their part to stop the spread of the virus.
“We’re letting people know that we support businesses reopening and we believe that probably a lot of them should have never been closed if they were able to implement effective health and safety standards,” Leinbach said.
Another poster design leaves a blank space for business owners or managers to add their contact information, to allow customers to reach out if they have recommendations about cleanliness practices.
Leinbach explained how the campaign is pushing for businesses to stay open if they’re able to follow health and safety standards.
“It’s not a question of the government picking the winners or losers,” he said. “This can be used as a tool to prod state government to say this shouldn’t be about who is open, who is closed, it should be about who can implement effective measures.”
Berks County has sent out press releases and bought ads to promote the campaign through billboards, TV ads, newspaper stories, online stories, posters on buses, social media posts and radio ads in both English and Spanish.
“That’s critical because you’ve got to communicate to businesses and to residents some way and that’s been very helpful,” Leinbach said.
All of the posters, graphics and website design files are available online for any county official who wants to replicate the campaign using their own county’s information. Berks County purchased the DoYourPartBerks.com domain name, which Leinbach said is an easy step that other counties can do to launch their own version of the website.
Leinbach advises other counties to establish a plan to spread the word about “do your part” measures. He recommends looking internally to promote and distribute information related to the campaign.
“When it comes down to it, it’s county government that interfaces with our community on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s county government that I believe understands the challenges our residents are facing better than any other level of government.”