mask wearing city council

Ernesto Lopez, left, listens as Mark Anderson talks about how the city plans to have local business owners make videos promoting wearing a mask while in public, during the Logan City Council meeting on Tuesday.

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In continuation of the city’s education initiatives to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Logan Municipal Council decided to “piggyback” onto the state’s “Stay safe to stay open” campaign by paying for about 15 local businesses to share virus-safety videos on social media.

“Maybe at this point, people are tired of hearing from their governmental representatives,” Council Member Mark Anderson said at Tuesday’s meeting. “So we thought we would try and continue the education program but shift towards getting businesses to participate. So maybe if we have business leaders encouraging everyone to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer and clean up behind themselves and wear masks, that maybe it would take a little bit more effect on our community.”

The project, paid for with CARES Act funding, is the follow-up to the city’s “Less Than 10” campaign since funding for the self-terminating ordinance expired on Oct. 31. In addition to the $10,000 of CARES Act funding allocated for the first leg of the education initiative, the city has budgeted for another $7,000 to cover local companies making videos for businesses to share on social media that will encourage mask-wearing, distancing and proper hygiene.

The parameters for businesses to participate in the current initiative is to be based in Logan, have signed the state’s “Stay Safe to Stay Open” pledge and, preferably, to already have an online presence. Of the 246 businesses listed on the “Stay Safe to Stay Open” webpage, 43 are located in Logan.

“If we can keep our employees safe and our businesses open, we get to keep the economy flowing,” said Anderson, who co-owns Anderson Seed and Garden on Center Street.

Though Anderson said his business is participating, they will pay for the spot out-of-pocket to reserve funds for others. The council is hoping for about 15 other businesses to join the project and will pay for the 30- to 40-second videos.

Logan city officials consider the Municipal Council’s “Less than 10” campaign “successful,” despite the fact that the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases of COVID-19 in the Bear River Health District hasn’t dropped below 10 since the first week in September. Wednesday and the six days prior averaged 86 new lab-confirmed cases a day as the three-county health district experiences its second wave of the pandemic.

In the Oct. 20 meeting, options like implementing another citywide mask mandate were discussed to replace the campaign and try to get a handle on local cases.

“As we’ve looked at what the new health guidance was from the state, and the fact that we are in that high category, by virtue of those new health orders there already is an existing mask mandate,” Council Chair Amy Anderson told The Herald Journal. “So it seemed to be repetitive for us to implement one on our own.”

Both the council’s chair and Mark Anderson agreed the new video campaign was a fiscally responsible way to jump on the state’s Chamber of Commerce initiative to reach a broader audience than October’s series of radio ads.

“We’re trying to use minimal funds but reach as many people as possible, and once have the videos … we can still utilize that message by re-sharing, at least through our own social media,” Anderson said.

In the Oct. 20 meeting, Council Member Jeannie Simmonds questioned the efficacy of an education initiative.

Although the city spent the majority of the “Less Than 10” campaign’s $10,000 budget on radio ads with the Cache Valley Media Group, cases in the area have continued to climb — including the new record of 159 cases in the district on Wednesday, and 117 of those in Cache County.

The health department estimates there are 1,633 active cases of COVID-19 in the district. One new death was reported Wednesday, bringing the total among people who list permanent addresses within Cache County to 12.

In the past two weeks, the county has had 763 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, a trend noted by Council Member Tom Jensen.

“Our spike of daily cases is going almost vertical,” he said. “I mean, it went from 11 to 17, and now it’s like 67. So it’s really drastically spiking up. I think there’s a lot of people who still don’t take it seriously, even though where I go, you know, I see it.”

Jensen added while the holiday season will be “a touchy subject,” research has shown small, intimate gatherings — such as backyard barbecues or birthday parties — are a leading spreader of the virus.

For example, Council Member Mark Anderson spoke of a local family who gathered to celebrate and watch the Oct. 4 session of the fall General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it turned into a virus-spreading event.

“One person infected 20 people at that one gathering,” he said. “So, it’s just something to be aware of.”

Chair Anderson said under the current public health emergency and guidelines set by the state, gatherings are to be limited and masks are required even at outdoor events.

However, she acknowledged current measures from the state, county offices and even the local health department lack teeth.

What you do in your own home is what you do in your own home,” she said. “And I think all we can do is encourage people to be safe and to be smart.”

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