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Utah health officials launch new campaign to get youth to avoid 'Rona'

Posted at 8:51 AM, Sep 25, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to get youth to follow health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah's Department of Health has launched a new public awareness campaign to warn of consequences of a surge in cases.

"Teens and young adults make up a large share of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Utah. The campaign is running on social media, digital billboards, and college campuses," the agency said in a statement Friday.

RELATED: Utah records a record-high 1,411 new cases of COVID-19

The ads, which are running on TV, billboards and social media, declare a "Rona alert" and warn that if people don't start wearing masks, physical distancing, or practicing good hygiene, events get shut down and students "go home."

It is the latest effort by state officials to try to get control of a rapidly growing problem. People ages 15-24 are making up the biggest number of cases right now, particularly in Utah County. Local health officials have said the spike in virus cases is tied to off-campus activity by college students who are disregarding health guidelines and then spread COVID-19 to all other age groups.

On Thursday, Utah recorded it's highest ever numbers in new cases since the pandemic began in mid-March. Governor Gary Herbert moved Provo and Orem back to an "orange" restriction level and Utah County health officials imposed a county-wide mask mandate. The presidents of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University have threatened an end to in-person classes if conditions don't improve.

Provo Mayor Michele Kaufusi is also working with Brigham Young University marketing students on another youth-targeted campaign to encourage following health guidelines.