Butler County launching coronavirus education campaign: Here’s what you’ll see

Scenes from the Butler County Fair Monday, July 27, 2020. The county commissioners have invested $225,000 in a countywide coronavirus awareness campaign. The project started with placing 50 hand sanitizing stations, mask requirements and social distancing messages at the fair. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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Scenes from the Butler County Fair Monday, July 27, 2020. The county commissioners have invested $225,000 in a countywide coronavirus awareness campaign. The project started with placing 50 hand sanitizing stations, mask requirements and social distancing messages at the fair. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The Butler County commissioners have invested $225,000 in a new coronavirus awareness campaign that includes 500 hand sanitizing stations, billboards, direct mailers and more to encourage stemming the virus spread.

The commissioners approved allocating $225,000 from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds this week. When the county reached the “red” stage on the governor’s health advisory system — the second-highest on the four-point scale — Commissioner Cindy Carpenter convened a committee that included the health commissioner, visitor’s bureau, emergency management department and the chambers of commerce to address how to stop the spread.

“We suspected that perhaps some of the communities had not received enough education regarding the protective actions they could take to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Carpenter said. “Our goals were to prevent, protect and reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

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The county dropped to a Level 2. There have been 2,778 confirmed cases and 61 deaths since the pandemic struck in March, in the county of almost 400,000 residents.

The money was given to the Butler County Visitors Bureau to manage the marketing effort. Executive Director Mark Hecquet said the campaign will be multi-faceted using billboards, direct mailers, messages on social media and county departments like Water and Sewer and Regional Transit Authority among other vehicles.

He said the county also bought 500 hand sanitizing stations that will be used for events, like the 50 stations that were set up at the recent Butler County Fair, businesses and other high traffic areas.

They are spreading the directives Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer has been stressing from the beginning.

“We’re reinforcing the wearing of masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands,” Hecquet said. “It’s the same message, they are the ones that Jenny continues to feel are the most important messages right now. If that changes we’ll adapt the promotion accordingly.”

The effort is all about keeping people safe and healthy but it is also aimed at helping all the struggling businesses that were “decimated” during the shutdown, according to Hecquet.

Emergency Management Agency Director Matt Haverkos said officials plan to give people information they need in terms of safety, like where to get masks and hand sanitizer in-county, to the latest directives from health professionals and other pertinent information.

“One of the pieces I think that it’s also really going provide is real time information to not only our businesses but our residents as this evolves,” Haverkos said. “As we’re watching with schools and sports right now, there is so much up and down from two weeks ago to what it’s going to be two weeks from now and trying to work through an ever changing situation, so folks know here’s where the information can be found.”

Dan Bates, president and CEO of the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, said providing this information should help business owners who have been overwhelmed with trying to stay afloat and also making sure they are in strict compliance with all the guidelines.

If people are policing themselves in terms of wearing masks and staying six feet apart from others, that’s one less worry and the businesses can stay open.

He said the clear, strong message from the county will make it “cool” to be conscientious.

“There is a certain group that comply, there is a certain group that is defying and then there is another group that’s in the middle that complies when they’re pressured,” Bates said. “I think what this does is we’re trying to make it cool to comply. We’re trying to create, this is the norm this is what everybody else is doing.”

He said he hates wearing his mask but he does it because it is the right thing to do.

“For me it’s about keeping the businesses open,” he said. “Anything that we can do to keep the businesses open and make the consumers feel safe, I think a lot of this is about consumer confidence.”