Announcing the Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program

We all feel it — the widespread desire and urgency to move on from the pandemic that has engulfed our lives for nearly the past two years. But we will only move on when the work is done and the work is far from over. COVID-19 continues to rage around the world and leaders have yet to take the bold actions needed to ensure we are better prepared and protected from future pandemic threats. In the cycle of “panic and neglect,” — defined by initial response to the crisis, but failing to act on long-term lessons and actually change the contributing factors of the crisis — we are teetering on neglect.

Pandemic Action Network was built to ensure that we not only end this crisis for everyone around the world, but to prevent the old cycle of “panic and neglect” from happening again. To achieve these goals, our partnership of over 140 diverse organizations is working to create the ongoing political will needed for action.

Numbers and research insights are helpful, but alone they are not enough to drive leaders to do what must be done to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic. Leaders need personal reasons to act — they need to hear the personal stories, experiences, and challenges of the ongoing realities of living through this pandemic because, while many want to look at COVID in the rear-view mirror, we know that this crisis is far from over and will persist without action.

That’s why we are launching our new Pandemic Action Network Ambassadors Program.

Pandemic Action Ambassadors come in many forms — those who worked on the frontlines, parents balancing child care alongside their day job, people who have lost loved ones, people who have lost livelihoods, and those who have seen the impact of political inaction. Pandemic Action Ambassadors are people who care, people who are willing to stand up and speak up about the urgency of ending this crisis, building systems at every level to prepare humanity for future health threats, and learning the lessons of this pandemic.

We invite these people to come together and share their personal experiences to help us advance COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness. Along with a community of other Ambassadors, you will receive monthly emails with small but impactful ways to take action, the opportunity to connect with one another and engage in critical advocacy efforts. The priority application window is open through Tuesday, November 30 at 11:59pm ET. Apply now!

Your story and your voice are key to driving the progress we so desperately need. Together, we have the power to end this crisis and prevent the next pandemic.

Why Masking Up Matters More Than Ever

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO and Founder of Panorama & Co-Founder of Pandemic Action Network

In May, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told vaccinated Americans they could take off their masks. Many public health officials and advocates, including the Pandemic Action Network, questioned this shift, especially as so many Americans remained unvaccinated. In response, Anne Hoen, an epidemiologist at Dartmouth College, said, “Wearing masks should probably be one of the last things we stop doing.” This statement has stuck with me. To protect the most vulnerable, the unvaccinated and actually stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to deploy all our tools until the end.

And when it comes to wearing a mask, the science is clear: masking in public can provide another layer of protection and help prevent the virus from spreading to others who aren’t protected, regardless of vaccination status.

Now two months after the CDC guidance shift, we are seeing accelerated spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. In the U.S., every state is reporting increasing COVID-19 cases, thus demonstrating that relying on the honor system and local guidance alone is insufficient.

“Vaccines do not equal the end of the pandemic,” my Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd shared with Forbes. “With vaccines and other precautions like face masks, we moved so close to normal. Why would we now move away from these measures?”

I agree. More than ever, it’s important that we stay focused on what can keep us all safe.

This month the Pandemic Action Network once again catalyzed our network of 130+ partners to ignite a global movement around the importance of continued masking.

With #ThanksForMasking selfies from leaders from Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, to Smita Sabharwal, WHO Director General Dr. Tedros, and Dr. Tom Frieden and key messages shared by organizations like UNICEF, Africa CDC, and 3M, this year’s World Mask Week campaign reached 250M+ people and was shared in 171 countries, or nearly 90% of countries around the world.

(Side note, if you’re interested in partnering with us to reach communities in the other 25 countries we didn’t reach, like Burkina Faso, Cyprus, and Chad, we’d love to talk!)

World Mask Week 2021 came at an absolutely critical time in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries, like the U.S., with access to vaccines were in the process of opening up, dropping mask-wearing guidance, and ignoring the fact that the pandemic is very much not over for the majority of people around the world. In fact, countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, and many others in Africa and Latin America, are suffering some of their worst peaks of this pandemic yet. And, they are not alone, the more contagious Delta variant is sparking COVID-19 spikes around the globe, including countries with relatively high vaccination rates, such as the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

But sadly, we have moved away from consistent mask-wearing and World Mask Week was a reminder that not only should we continue to mask up, but we need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this key call-to-action, there is urgent work to be done to ensure masking up is fundamental to our collective COVID-19 response. The fact is not lost on us that World Mask Week concluded the day before the U.K. celebrated “freedom day.” And, here in the U.S., Los Angeles Country reinstated an indoor masking order amidst an alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, recently disclosed that U.S. health officials are actively considering a revision to the mask guidance. However, as of this article’s publish date, the Center for Disease Control has not updated their guidance for full vaccinated individuals. As we shared in a policy brief this month, masking still matters, and governments, businesses, and individuals all have a role to play in normalizing mask-wearing to protect those who are most vulnerable and to end this pandemic for everyone.

That’s why we’re so thankful for all of our partners who participated in World Mask Week this year and helped amplify our collective #ThanksForMasking call-to-action. And, we will continue to rally around this issue and not mask the truth when it comes to the importance of the simple and effective act of mask-wearing.

#ThanksForMasking and continue to mask up until we end this pandemic for everyone.

World Mask Week 2021 Catalyzes a Global Movement to Continue Masking Up

People, leaders, and organizations around the world rallied behind the ongoing importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic for all!

Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M, and more than 70 partner organizations launched World Mask Week 2021 with two goals in mind. First to unite the globe around a simple message: masking in public is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19. The second, to show gratitude for those who have masked throughout this pandemic and continue to do so via the message #ThanksForMasking.

World Mask Week came at a pivotal time in the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Delta variant fueling Africa’s third wave, record numbers of cases in countries around the world, and increased spread from Indonesia and Bangladesh to Colombia and South Africa. The campaign was made even more relevant as the U.K. and U.S., countries with relatively high vaccination rates, debated masking guidance and reopening despite a marked increase in cases.

Over the course of one week — July 12-18 — World Mask Week met the moment.:

 

Beyond the conversation taking place on social media, Forbes published a strong piece about the importance of continued masking and featured quotes from Pandemic Action Network co-founder Eloise Todd alongside partner content. In addition, Triple Pundit made the business case for ongoing masking noting that “World Mask Week shouldn’t just be a 2020 or 2021 thing. Wearing masks has become one of the most effective ways to stall the spread of diseases, and companies seeking to check some ESG boxes would be wise to support such a global effort.”

What now?
While World Mask Week turned up the volume of this urgent issue, we still need clear and consistent masking guidance at the national level in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called “Why Masking Still Matters” that includes key messaging regarding the importance of continued masking and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals. This document will drive Network-wide ongoing advocacy efforts to accelerate clear and consistent masking guidance.

Overall, we learned that responding with urgency is worth it. People around the world — especially those who are bearing the brunt of this raging pandemic — are eager to engage and be a voice for the importance of masking up alongside other interventions such as handwashing, physical distancing, and getting vaccinated when vaccines are available.

Thank you to all of our partners for their dedication to doing whatever it takes to keep the world safe from COVID-19. #ThanksForMasking.

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

Your Pandemic Story Matters — Apply for a Pandemic Storytelling Workshop with The Moth

We’ve learned many things during the pandemic, but one is the importance of storytelling and consistent messaging. A compelling story can move people to action, while disinformation can put people’s lives at risk. This means that honing our individual ability to deliver a message can actually help end this pandemic and better prepare for, or even prevent, the next.

But, are we equipped to tell stories that will move decisionmakers to action? As policymakers and advocates respond and analyze the impact of the pandemic, we often talk about big metrics — GDP and job loss numbers — but those analyses fail to account for the individual, social, and economic impact of this global crisis.

Now is the time to sharpen our storytelling skills and amplify community-level experiences and lessons learned. The Moth, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pandemic Action Network, are holding three free-of-charge virtual storytelling workshops to amplify community-level stories from the pandemic’s frontlines. 

If you have a passion for storytelling that can make a difference and a frontline experience from the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you to learn more and apply.

Please note that the deadline application has passed. To stay in the loop for more opportunities this like this, sign up for our Pandemic Action Playbook.