SALT LAKE CITY — To be blunt, the Salt Lake County Health Department is being blunt in their current messaging about stopping the transmission of COVID-19.
In a series of public service announcements posted to social media ahead of the holidays, the department is pulling no punches about the dangers of not heeding the advice of experts and keeping holiday celebrations within the household.
One of the messages shows a family taking a group photo around the Thanksgiving dinner table with the caption, "Everybody say, 'I was just exposed to COVID!'"
Another shares an image of a grandmother and her grandson. In the PSA, it's mentioned the boy has been infected with the coronavirus for four days, but shows no symptoms; while grandma will end up in the ICU in five days.
"By taking this strong approach, we're engaging people in discussions where they need to be held." said David Skorut, Multimedia Specialist for the Salt Lake County Health Department. "Through this kind of blunt messaging, we feel like we can positively make an impact for this winter season."
The new campaign has even caught the eye of Utah's top physician, Dr. Angela Dunn.
"I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this," tweeted Dunn along with one of the graphics. "C’mon Utah. We can do this. We can find ways to enjoy the holidays AND save our hospitals. It’s not just about YOU. It’s about US."
@SaltLakeHealth I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this 😂😭 C’mon Utah. We can do this. We can find ways to enjoy the holidays AND save our hospitals. It’s not just about YOU. It’s about US. #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/lw726tytVw— Dr. Angela Dunn (@DrAngelaCDunn) November 24, 2020
Skorut says the aim of the PSA's isn't to scare Utah residents, but to hammer home the point that it's on the entire state to stop the current COVID-19 surge that has led to thousands of daily cases.
"Make people realize that it's incumbent on each and every person doing what they can, especially through the holiday season, to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19." he said.
Another ad shows how everyone around the table will suffer if just one person in attendance has COVID-19. From missing work to the death of a loved one, the message is clear: Don't gather in large groups and stop the spread.
"Essentially, what that means is that your situation is rarely an exception." Skorut said. "You should be celebrating only with the people that you live with because, as the data has shown, these types of small household gatherings between different households is one of the primary transmission methods of COVID-19 in Salt Lake County."
Skorut says the health department is hoping Utahns are willing to sacrifice one Thanksgiving so that everyone can joy the holiday for years to come.
"By making alternative plans this year, we can make sure in future years, once we have treatments, vaccines, we can go back to celebrating as things once were."