CHICAGO (CBS) — As of Tuesday, it had been seven months to the day since Gov. JB Pritzker first issued a stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.
Since then, it has been a roller coaster of new cases, and new restrictions. We were told to mask up and keep our distance over and over again.
But let’s be honest – COVID fatigue is real, and if you have it, you’re not alone. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey spent the day Tuesday asking whether the strategy to get the word out is still working.
We are learning the answer to that question depends on whom you ask. Gov. Pritzker says yes, but communications efforts say it might be time for a tweak.
We heard it again and again from Gov. Pritzker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, and other officials – something along the lines of, “Mask up, wash your hands keep your distance.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s orders have even been made into a meme.
On Twitter, she says, “Don’t be stupid. Wear a mask. Social distance.”
While it is an important message, Columbia College adjunct professor and advertising expert Shanelle Armstrong Fowler said it sounds like white noise at this point.
“It’s sounding like white noise because it’s the exact same message every time,” Fowler said.
Fowler applauded the city on its efforts to promote social distancing over the past several months.
But she said at this stage of the game, the city needs to start coming up with fresh ways to communicate the same message – including more geo-targeting. For example, she advised targeting ZIP codes with higher positivity rates and also targeting different generations specifically.
“So if you’re looking at a younger demographic, Generation Z, you might want to lead with the messaging about gatherings,” Fowler said.
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Fowler said it is also important for business to join in on that advertising too – as Target recently did with a series of ads.
On Tuesday, we also took the question of COVID fatigue to Gov. Pritzker. Hickey asked him if he thought the current strategy was still working to get the message to residents.
“Yeah, I do,” Pritzker said. “What I know is wearing a mask works. What I know is social distance works.
Pritzker elaborated by saying that now more people know someone who has been infected, and that has helped spread the message.
“We need to make sure people hear the message again, because now I think it’s personal to people,” he said. “It is local to people.”
Gov. Pritzker talked about how his office invites local doctors to their COVD-19 press briefings because it can have an impact on some residents who are hearing from a local doctor in their community who is seeing the surge in cases firsthand.
Meanwhile, Fowler also talked about the importance of social media influencers on getting the word out on coronavirus safety precautions. She said they don’t necessarily have to be national celebrities, but instead local influencers who can reach residents in their social media circles.