SALT LAKE CITY – College kids and young adults are driving a surge in positive COVID-19 test results in Utah. Now, the state health department has launched a new social media campaign called “Ronalert” to get young people to wear a mask, wash their hands and stay home when they’re sick.
Department spokeswoman Jenny Johnson said the message of Ronalert is the same as other COVID-19 safety campaigns. But, they hope it’s in a format young adults will better respond to.
“We [previously were] not doing a good job about speaking in the way that we need to help young people understand that this means them too,” Johnson said. “By using the platforms they’re on, it’s going to encourage that behavior change.”
The first video — showing several young people wearing masks — debuted Friday on TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.
The state of Utah is responding to the spike in COVID-19 cases with an awareness campaign for 15-24 year-olds, who are over-represented in the recent increase in cases. The campaign is running on social media, digital billboards, and college campuses. #ronalert #avoidtherona pic.twitter.com/suyEodsjGm
— State of Utah COVID-19 Response (@UtahCoronavirus) September 25, 2020
Ronalert is intended to help young people understand the risks of COVID-19, even if they only experience a mild case.
“Maybe it’s not so much the health effects that they’re worried about, but we know that they’re worried about staying in school or playing sports or hanging out with their friends,” Johnson said. “We know that those are the things they want to do and, right now, they’re at risk of losing those opportunities.”
Johnson said she also wants teens to understand how the virus can spread.
“We do expect that these [COVID-19] increases can and will spill over to other age groups,” she said. “They interact with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings.”
Ronalert is being paid for by $170,000 in federal CARES Act funding. However, the department said it doesn’t think they’ll spend that much because several local universities want to contribute.
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