Illinoisans have been ordered to stay at home for almost a month so far. While many are following that order, some in Springfield have needed a reminder.
Familiar faces and voices have been gracing a lot of radios, TVs and social media feeds lately, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell and Catholic Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, with the same message - thank healthcare workers and stay at home.
Their messages are part of a PR campaign recently launched by Sangamon County to remind residents about social distancing rules aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“Just to reinforce to people this isn’t over and it isn’t going to be over for a while,” said Brian McFadden, the Sangamon County administrator.
McFadden said local physicians and public health officials worried that people would start hearing Illinois is reaching its peak of new cases and then think it’s safe to bend the rules.
“Our physicians felt strongly that Sangamon County does not have the same peak date as the state of Illinois, or Cook County,” he said. “They felt strongly it would follow whatever date the state was using as an average.”
The county is recruiting elected officials, pastors and other well-known people to record a short message. For younger audiences, McFadden said the county is also reaching out to high school coaches, athletes and others.
Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne released a video earlier this week challenging young people to make videos encouraging their peers to stay in. He will pick winners on Monday, share their videos and buy pizza for their families.
Getting People’s Attention
The state of Illinois is making a similar push – with the slogan “All In Illinois” and messages from famous Illinoisans such as comedian Jane Lynch, Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Hilary Rodham Clinton. On Friday, the site released a video of Gov. J.B. Prtizker practicing social distancing with penguins and other animals at the Shedd Aquarium.
Some Springfield City Council members have taken to their own social media pages to spread the word.
Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner said she is frustrated by what she sees as a lack of messaging from local officials and, two weeks ago, made her own video that’s gotten nearly 4,000 views.
“It’s simple things like that we should be doing and encouraging others to do as well,” she said.
The video features many of her family members, including her son Blake Turner - the Lanphier High School men's basketball coach, and her granddaughter, making the appeal to her classmates at Ball Charter School.
“It had different age groups. It had people that are in different social settings, and it was able to hit a lot of different constituencies,” Turner said.
Turner’s fellow city council members – Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso and Ward 8 Ald. Erin Conley - joined in too, posting their own videos with a more light-hearted touch.
DiCenso – in a leopard-print headband and scarf – did an impression of Carole Baskin from the documentary series Tiger King. Conley, with her hair tucked in two buns on the sides of her head, impersonated Star Wars’ Princess Leia .
DiCenso said a little humor helps get the message across.
“It gets people's attention more than just me saying straight to a camera ‘hey everyone you need to stay home. This is a serious thing,’” she said. “ I think people need something to laugh about and poke fun at.”
She and other city council members said they’ve heard complaints throughout the city of people violating social distancing rules – whether it’s house parties, outdoor barbecues, pickup basketball games or crowding in parks.
The complaints, in part, prompted Mayor Jim Langfelder, who also appears in a PSA for Sangamon County, to sign an executive order allowing police to issue $500 fines to those who don’t follow the rules.
No matter how it’s delivered – the messaging remains the same: stay at home.