A cachet of community working group members is encouraging residents, business leaders and the community at large to join the “Mask Up, HBURG” campaign to manage the risk of the spread of COVID-19 amidst rising numbers by wearing face masks or coverings at all times.
The “Mask Up, HBURG” campaign aims to engage citizens through a quick call to action and to also serve as an educational platform for how and why wearing a mask can help slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.
Visually, campaign messaging will be seen throughout the community by way of outdoor billboards, public service announcements that will run on local news outlets and digital engagement opportunities through social media platforms.
During a Zoom conference Monday, Bernard Green, owner of Global Green Insurance, said there are four ways to manage risk when it comes to the virus: avoidance, mitigation, transfer, and to retain risks.
“At this point in our lives, it is virtually impossible to avoid the risk of COVID-19 and how it affects our city and community, which leads us to where we are with mitigation,” he said. “Our mask campaign is part of this mitigation process, and we ask you to join us.
“One thing I know we have in common as business and community leaders is the ability to adapt and overcome; we are resilient and can make things happen. Lastly, we all understand the altruistic view from which we approach this, which is personal sacrifice for the greater good of a large group.”
Abb Payne, president of Payne Companies, said he has learned while traveling across the country in recent weeks that most Americans seem to be taking a “we’re in this together” approach to the pandemic. So even though masks are not required at certain locations, wearing one is the right thing to do, he added.
“It’s kind of a social contract amongst Americans and people that move around,” Payne said. “The alternative is to shut the country down, and no one wants that.
“So I would say just treat your neighbors like you wanted to be treated – it’s a great thing.”
Traci Rouse of Merit Health Wesley said the hospital’s doctors, nurses and frontline staff have been working extremely hard to handle the influx of COVID patients, but officials do need help to mitigate numbers.
“We need the business community’s help to spread the word about this campaign, and we need to community’s help to wear these masks,” she said. “We feel like for every business that will share the message of this campaign, your customers would then change their actions.
“The best way for us to change actions is for the customers to see this at multiple places at multiple times. So the ask is simple to the business community: will you help us?”
Dr. Rambod A. Rouhbakhsh of Hattiesburg Clinic and Forrest General Hospital said there were a lot of misses in battling the pandemic in the early stages, but officials have learned a lot since then.
“The one thing I’m most confident about is the ability of appropriate mask usage to help decrease the spread of this disease,” he said. “We have robust evidence from our COVID clinic that not one person has turned up positive from exposure to a patient, and we also have robust evidence that the health care workers that do test positive do so socially and when they’re not at work and required to wear masks. So if there was ever any question to the usefulness of this intervention, let me please put that to rest: this is absolutely the one thing that we have that we know works. If you normalize this behavior … I truly feel like that is our best chance of getting out of this in a reasonable fashion.”
Other speakers at the conference including Hoppy Cole, CEO and president of the First – A National Banking Association; Todd Jackson from the Area Development Partnership; and Mayor Toby Barker.
For more information on the campaign, visit maskuphburg.com.