How to Help People Mask Better

Chances are you’ve seen the media headlines blaring recommendations to upgrade your masks:

Demand for N95 and KN95 masks is rising as experts say it’s time to ‘up your mask game’
-Fortune

How to find the best KN95 masks for kids because the cloth face mask isn’t cutting it
-USA Today

Why experts recommend a N95 mask to stop Covid spread
-CNN

So why am I seeing so many super COVID-cautious people clinging to their cloth masks? Research on behavior change and insights from the field of social marketing holds some of the answers to that question…plus tips for how to help people make the change.

Change is hard. When the Pandemic Action Network launched the #MaskingForAFriend campaign in April 2020, we knew this new masking behavior would be particularly difficult, especially in countries that had no experience with it. Given the desire to first secure personal protective equipment for frontline workers at the outset of the pandemic, we agreed with the WHO and CDC: any mask (including cloth masks) was better than no mask. All things considered, global mask adoption exceeded our expectations.

But over the last year, as the data mounts and the virus mutates, we’ve asked people to change again. For those who’ve settled into a behavior (wearing a cloth mask), upgrading to a surgical mask or respirator (N95, KN95, KF94) feels like one ask too many.

Adding to the behavioral inertia are legitimate barriers.

Environmental concerns. Many of the people who willingly adopted the cloth mask habit made a similar change a few years ago when they switched to reusable grocery bags. Asking them to ditch their curated set of cloth masks in favor of disposable paper masks may not sit well with people who are concerned about the litter and waste. They likely wouldn’t go back to use one-time grocery bags, so why would they do that for masks?

Access and availability. For the last two years, cloth masks have proliferated. People made their own, companies gave branded versions to employees, and fashionistas used masks to show off their individuality. I imagine if I asked you to count up the number of cloth masks you have, it would be a pretty high number. But who’s passing out N95s right now? Access to free or low-cost higher-quality masks continues to be a major barrier.

So what can public health and behavior change communicators do now to encourage people to upgrade their masks and help slow the spread of omicron? Nancy Lee’s Show Me, Help Me, Make Me model holds the key.

Show Me. For a subset of the population, getting the information and education will be enough to help them make the switch. Therefore, influential people should continue to share the research and information through media, social media, and talking with their networks.

Help Me. This is the biggest subset of the population — those who would make the change if they are given the help. Companies who are requiring in-person work should provide N95, KN95, or KF94 masks to their employees; you can even get your logo printed on them now! If you are the “mask ambassador” in your family or friend group, you can gift your loved ones items from groups like Project N95 in the U.S. or at least direct them to the resource.

Make Me. Sometimes education and support need to be paired with requirements to move the final subset of the population to act. Some countries, municipalities, hospitals, and schools are now requiring higher-quality masks, at least until the omicron surge recedes. This is definitely a tool in the behavior change toolbox, and if the right supports are provided (i.e., access to affordable or even free masks) to make compliance possible, now is a good time to use it.

If you are interested in contributing to this thinking, please reach out. Pandemic Action Network hosts a monthly Behavior Change Communications Working Group where we explore questions like these and other strategies to shift behavior and help end the crisis phase of this pandemic. #ThanksForMasking

The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa Was Supposed to Be a Short-Term Solution: A Year Later, the Need is Still There

BY GABRIELLE FITZGERALD, CEO AND FOUNDER OF PANORAMA & CO-FOUNDER OF PANDEMIC ACTION NETWORK

Over the past year, the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa distributed 81.6 million units of personal protective equipment (PPE) to almost 500,000 community health workers in 18 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa is a radically collaborative initiative that was co-founded by Pandemic Action NetworkCommunity Health Impact CoalitionDirect ReliefCommunity Health Acceleration Partnership, and VillageReach.

“All regions are at risk, but none more so than Africa.” — WHO Director General Tedros

I previously wrote about some of the strategies­­ that have been vital to the success of this initiative: we formed a loose partnership, we moved fast and there were no organizational or individual egos. As a result, between August and December 2020, CAF-Africa was the fifth largest procurement mechanism of PPE in the world.

Where are we today?

Today, we are eighteen months into the global pandemic. Last week, the World Health Organization’s Director General Tedros said, “All regions are at risk, but none more so than Africa.” And Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the organization’s lead for Africa warned: “Be under no illusions, Africa’s third wave is absolutely not over . . . Many countries are still at peak risk and Africa’s third wave surged up faster and higher than ever before.”

Sadly, the stop-gap measure we put into place a year ago is still needed, and major systemic challenges remain:

  • There is still limited visibility into PPE needs at the country and global levels.
  • There is no single regional body that quantifies cross-country PPE needs, tracks pipeline, and aggregates needs and gaps.
  •  The PPE market remains fragmented.

In order to create sustainable solutions, we believe it’s critical to:

  • Invest in strengthening the procurement options available to support countries to meet their PPE and other supply needs, during the pandemic and beyond; and
  • Continue to explore models to pool the philanthropic dollars going to medicines and supplies for health workers.

This post originally appeared on Medium

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.

Take Action for World Mask Week 2021!

A global movement to encourage continued masking to reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic Action Network is partnering up with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, the World Health Organization, 3M, 50+ other organizations, and countless community leaders around the world to launch World Mask Week 2021 (July 12-18). In case you missed it, #WorldMaskWeek is a movement to encourage sustained mask-wearing to help bring us closer to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations.

This year, World Mask Week comes as 2021’s pandemic-related deaths surpass those in 2020, variants spread and mutate daily, and a two-track pandemic has emerged — where some regions are up against the spread of variants and rising case numbers, while others with access to vaccines are lifting masking and other public health restrictions (albeit prematurely). On top of these barriers, we are also fighting against pandemic fatigue. We get it. People are tired and the COVID-19 pandemic represents compounding crises and hardship at every level. However, the simple act of covering your face through proper masking could mean protecting your loved ones and yourself as the pandemic persists. 

We know that mask-wearing can reduce the spread of COVID-19. While COVID-19 vaccines help prevent serious illness and death, the extent to which vaccines keep us safe from being infected and passing the virus to others is still emerging. We need to take care of each other and stay focused on what keeps us safe. Masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19.

World Mask Week is a time for individuals and organizations alike to rally behind the continued importance of wearing a mask. An act as simple as posting a statement, a photo, or a video with your favorite mask and tagging #ThanksforMasking can show support, reinforce the importance of continued masking, and help propel the movement forward. Through the power of connectivity and social media, we can thank one another and do our part by masking for ourselves, our friends, and our families to protect each other and end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take action for World Mask Week! The World Mask Week campaign social media toolkit is publicly-available and contains creative assets to help you join the movement and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Join us today by sharing a photo of yourself in your favorite mask and tagging someone to say #ThanksforMasking for #WorldMaskWeek!

Why Masking Still Matters

Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, as COVID-19 variants spread and the pandemic persists around the world, there are a lot of questions about masking. When do I need to wear a mask? Where do I need to wear a mask? Is masking still needed if I’m vaccinated? In short, to protect those who are most vulnerable and to end this pandemic for everyone, masking still matters — now more than ever. Together immunization, ventilation, hand hygiene, social distancing, and mask-wearing are the best tools we have against COVID-19. No single intervention alone is sufficient to end the pandemic, but face-covering has become increasingly important as lockdowns are eased and people seek a full return to public life. By wearing a mask in public indoor and crowded places, everyone can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. Ending mask requirements too soon will unnecessarily cost many lives. Read our latest policy brief including key messaging and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals.

“Honoring Health Care Workers Is Not Enough—We Must Work to Protect Them.” – Recommendations from Resolve to Save Lives for Governments, Health Systems, and Funders

By Amanda McClelland, Senior Vice President, Resolve to Save Lives

The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented in many ways. But in at least one respect, it is tragically similar to other outbreaks of infectious disease: health care workers have not been provided adequate protections and have been hit disproportionately hard.

The World Health Organization estimates at least 30,000 health care workers have already died from COVID-19. Health care workers are so critical to our response to COVID-19 and other epidemics that it’s difficult to imagine what the response would look like without them. Times like this are when we need health care workers most; we depend on them to work intimately with patients, providing both lifesaving care and comfort, even when that means putting their own lives on the line. And although health care workers’ heroism and sacrifices during COVID-19 have been loudly applauded, this well-deserved recognition can hide another truth: these sacrifices—of time, well-being, even their lives—are largely avoidable. By not prioritizing and investing in the safety of health care workers, governments around the world have chosen, once again, words over deeds.

As a nurse, I know firsthand what it is like to be on the frontline of an epidemic without sufficient support. When you don’t have the resources, equipment, policies, training, guidelines or other support you need, it puts you, your patients and your health system at risk.

But there is good news. Protecting health care workers is easier than you think. In a new report, Resolve to Save Lives and partners highlight the risks health care workers face, and break down what governments, NGOs, donors, and advocates can do to start protecting health care workers better today:

  • Put measures proven to prevent and control the spread of infection in place. Health facilities everywhere need clean water, sanitation, and hygiene protocols (also known as WASH standards). Other necessary improvements include increased ventilation, and standards to triage and isolate patients. Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, hand sanitizer, and gowns are also needed.
  • Provide training on how to prevent and control infections for health care workers at all levels. Stopping the spread of infections means following best practices—health care workers need quality training (and frequent updates) on how to keep themselves, and their patients safe.
  • Advocate for laws and policies that support health care workers, in and out of the workplace. Employer-sponsored benefits like paid sick leave and access to mental health services allow health care workers to care for themselves, which makes them better able to care for patients. Burn out is a serious threat to the health workforce, a field which already faces critical shortages around the world. This also means prioritizing health care workers everywhere—not just in wealthy countries—to receive COVID-19 vaccines immediately.
  • Collect data on health care worker infections and protections and use it to improve safety practices. Tracking factors like handwashing, hospital-associated infections, availability of PPE, and adequate water and sanitation in health care facilities can help to identify gaps. International leaders like the World Health Organization should prioritize this issue and use available data to publish regular reports and recommendations for improvement.

Take action to advance these critical recommendations!

Read the full report from Resolve to Save Lives: Protecting Health Care Workers, A Need for Urgent Action

Share on social media: Protecting Health Care Workers Social Toolkit

 


Amanda McClelland is the senior vice-president of the Prevent Epidemics team at Resolve to Save Lives. A registered nurse, she has more than 20 years of experience in primary health care, global health and responding to natural disasters, conflict and epidemics in more than 15 countries including the West Africa Ebola response.

Resolve to Save Lives was created to save 100 million lives from cardiovascular disease and to prevent epidemics. Resolve to Save Lives provides catalytic funding to countries interested in improving epidemic preparedness or their citizens’ heart health.

Africa Mask Week Sparks Community Engagement to Keep Masking

Youth, government and public health leaders, celebrities, and people across the continent united around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic.

During the last week of November, leaders and communities across Africa rallied around an important and critical idea: Keep masking. When we wear a mask, we are protecting our friends, our families, and our communities. 

Africa Mask Week came at a critical time, when data showed COVID-19 cases on the rise, but adherence to masking and other behaviors known to stop the spread waning due to pandemic and prevention fatigue. Between November 23 and 30, 2020 the Pandemic Action Network, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, and Resolve to Save Lives organized the online campaign encouraging people across the African continent to wear masks and stem the spread of COVID-19. In the weeks since, the effort has sustained on social media and moved to offline fora and communities in 50 out of 54 African countries

Over the span of two weeks:

  • The campaign reached more than 299 million people with more than 187 million social media impressions and 112 million traditional media impressions across 106 countries. 
  • Preliminary results have shown an 18% increase in mask-wearing social posting activity compared to the previous period.
  • During the campaign, “community” was the most popular term in social posts, while #AfricaYouthLead was a popular tag alongside #AfricaMaskWeek.
  • The top post came from social media influencer Ihssane Benalluch, promoting mask wearing in English and Arabic.

 

This effort was driven by 75+ global, regional, national, and local partners via a social media partner toolkit with content in English, French, Arabic, Swahili, and Portuguese. Participating partners included Africa CDC, the AU Youth Envoy, Resolve to Save Lives, CORE Group, the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa (CAF-Africa), Gavi, Global Health Corps, Global Health Strategies, the Global Health Technologies Coalition, GOAL, Goodbye Malaria, HEA Sports, Jhpiego, Last Mile Health, MSH, ONE, PATH, the Rockefeller Foundation, Southern Africa Youth Forum, Sport Connect Africa, UNICEF, UNITE, USAID, VillageReach, WHO African Region, Weber Shandwick, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

The campaign launched with an Africa CDC virtual launch discussion featuring Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong, AU Youth Envoy Aya Chebbi, and Pandemic Action Network Co-founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald, and has had 3.2K views to date. 

At the launch of Africa Mask Week, Dr. Nkengasong articulated the challenge, “We may be tired. We may have prevention fatigue, but I can assure you the COVID-19 virus is not tired.” Until there are vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, wearing a mask is one of the best tools we have, especially when combined with physical distancing and hand washing. 

But arguably the biggest success of this campaign has been its offline reach across local and regional communities, thanks to the many in-country health institutions and NGOs working at the community level to disseminate mask-wearing messaging. Groups like the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Amref Health Africa, Development Media International (DMI) and so many more have folded these messages into their public health communications and community engagement efforts, ensuring that the importance of ongoing mask-wearing is emphasized among a wider audience.

We are grateful to the energy and efforts of all of our partners, and look forward to seeing this momentum continue through the new year. When we work together and #WearAMask, we can help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Spread CHEER, Not COVID

by Gabrielle Fitzgerald, Co-Founder Pandemic Action Network

The holiday season is here. The next few weeks are a time that we would normally hold festive get-togethers with loved ones – Hannukah, Christmas, New Year’s. While every family has unique traditions that make their celebrations special, what binds them in common is gathering, eating, and spending time together.

In 2020, holiday traditions, like almost everything else this year, need to adapt. With COVID cases rising in every single state, it is vital that we put tradition aside for this season and find new ways to celebrate.

The concept of holiday “cheer” is defined by dictionary.com as something that gives joy, gladness, or comfort. And it’s commemorated in carols as different as “Carol of the Bells” (written by a Ukranian composer in 1914) to “Christmas Wrapping” (the modern classic by The Waitresses in 1981).

But this year, there’s a new definition of “cheer” as a way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID. In order to “spread cheer, not COVID” everyone should keep in mind these rules for a CHEER-ful holiday.

#SpreadCHEER not COVID this holiday season with these five tips: 

  • Cover your face. Wear a mask to protect you and those around you, especially if you are indoors.
  • Handwash often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after removing your mask. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up.
  • Explore virtual activities. Get creative with online game nights, meals, movie watching or gift exchanges with friends or families.
  • Enjoy outside. If you must meet up with people you don’t live with, go outdoors. Even then, keep distance and masked!
  • Remember we are in this together. Until COVID-19 is gone, we must do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

 

Pandemic Action Network partners helping lead the charge to #SpreadCHEER not COVID this season include the Federation of American Scientists, iHeartMedia, Facebook, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and dozens of other national and global organizations that make up the Network. iHeartMedia, for example, is supplying 30-second radio PSAs with the Spread CHEER message to its 800 radio stations around the United States. 

#SpreadCHEER not COVID focuses on tips and stories about creative ways people are celebrating the holidays while staying COVID-safe.

Let’s all work together to have a CHEERful holiday season this year so that we can get back to our traditional cheer next year!

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Action Network Urges Caution and Creativity: This Holiday Season, Spread CHEER Not COVID

New CHEER Tips Translate Public Health Recommendations Into 5 Ways to Stay Healthy and Merry

December 9, 2020, Seattle, WA—With daily cases surging in many parts of the world, and hospitals in the U.S. and many other countries slammed by COVID-19, the Pandemic Action Network is joining the chorus of leaders asking people to scale back their holiday plans. But with one twist: the Network is emphasizing ramping up the fun and creativity while adapting to new traditions that can keep people healthy and safe.

“We have an important message this holiday season: Spread CHEER not COVID,” said Gabrielle Fitzgerald, co-founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “People are craving holiday joy, even more so in the face the unspeakable illness and tragedy we’ve faced during this ongoing pandemic. Our CHEER tips can help make the holidays both merry and safe.”

The five CHEER tips are:

  • Cover your face. Wear a mask to protect you and those around you, especially if you are indoors.
  • Handwash often. Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after removing your mask. Use hand sanitizer as a back-up.
  • Explore virtual activities. Get creative with online game nights, meals, movie watching or gift exchanges with friends or families.
  • Enjoy outside. If you must meet up with people you don’t live with, go outdoors. Even then, keep distance and masked!
  • Remember we are in this together. Until COVID-19 is gone, we must do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

 

Pandemic Action Network partners helping lead the charge to #SpreadCHEER not COVID this season include the Federation of American Scientists, iHeartMedia, Facebook, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and dozens of other national and global organizations that make up the Network. iHeartMedia, for example, is supplying 30-second radio PSAs with the Spread CHEER message to its 800 radio stations around the United States.

In the U.S., the CDC is urging Americans to avoid travel during the winter holiday season. For those who decide to travel, the CDC recommends getting a COVID-19 test one to three days before the trip and another three to five days after travel. And regardless of where people celebrate the holiday, heeding guidelines and protocols from local public health leaders can help stop the exponential increases in cases we are seeing.

The Federation of American Scientists convened a group of leading behavioral scientists to advise on the development of its safe holiday initiative. Ultimately, the counsel helped produce messaging that is both empathetic and actionable; recognizing that we’ve all been through a lot this year, we need joy in our lives, but we also want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. The CHEER tips can help people navigate a perilous season.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been asked to adopt behaviors that are good for society but can be hard on them. Behavioral science helps us understand the best way to motivate people to adhere to such requests—to take on a cost for the benefit of others,” said Erez Yoeli, PhD, research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Dr. Yoeli, whose research focuses on altruism, advised on the development of the Spread CHEER messaging. “This holiday season, we need to communicate the benefit to the community and be as unambiguous as possible about the guidance… all while demonstrating our understanding that everyone is badly—and rightly—craving joy right now. Spread CHEER not COVID hits those notes.”

The Pandemic Action Network is urging people and organizations to share ideas on how they will #SpreadCHEER not COVID on social media, tagging friends and family to pass on the momentum.

For more information, visit bit.ly/spreadcheer.

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In August, the Pandemic Action Network introduced World Mask Week, and recently launched African Mask Week. Now facing surging rates of COVID-19, catalyzing the Network to share the important #SpreadCHEER message this holiday season is crucial to help slow the pandemic and save lives.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

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#AfricaMaskWeek Launches to Build Continent-Wide Movement for Mask-Wearing

At a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing in a second wave in many parts of the world and people are fatigued with the public health and social measures, #AfricaMaskWeek is being launched to sustain and increase mask-wearing as a protective measure among populations in Africa.

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 23 NOVEMBER 2020. #AfricaMaskWeek launches today across the continent, from 23 to 30 November 2020. Led by the Pandemic Action Network, in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, Resolve to Save Lives, and many other organisations, this week-long social media campaign will encourage mask-wearing across the African continent.

Until there is a vaccine or medicine, mask-wearing, handwashing and physical distancing are the best tools available to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The key to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the absence of a vaccine is to adopt the age-old public health strategy of wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly and keeping a safe distance from others,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. “As we intensify testing and contact tracing to identify and treat infected persons across the continent, you can avoid being infected by simply wearing a mask to prevent respiratory droplets from reaching your nose and mouth.”

In August 2020, the Pandemic Action Network led over 40 organisations across the globe to observe the World Mask Week, which provided a unique opportunity to draw attention to the need for increased use of face coverings in public places and particularly in settings where physical distancing is not possible.

Over 55 partner organizations are currently working together in implementing the #AfricaMaskWeek initiative to help mobilize support and action for increased mask-wearing as an essential measure to prevent COVID-19 infection and ultimately stop the spread of the COVID-19 at the community level in African countries.

The week will feature several activities, including a virtual launch event today at 6.00 pm East Africa Time, which will feature discussions about mask-wearing and its benefits in controlling the spread of COVID-19. There will be social media campaigns and online events through the week by corporate and private entities and individuals across the continent to promote mask-wearing. Individuals will be able to show their support by sharing photos and messages about mask-wearing using the hashtag #AfricaMaskWeek.

The registration link to join the kickoff event is: #AfricaMaskWeek23Nov2020. Meeting ID 916 5711 1736 and Passcode 072567.

Recent data suggest that mask-wearing in Africa is declining while COVID-19 continues to spread. African leaders and the public must keep practicing what works to stop the spread. More than 40 African countries have enacted policies on mandatory use of masks in public, but there are challenges with compliance to those policies. Implementation has been inconsistent and, in some cases, marred by human rights violations. Furthermore, there are documented rumors, misinformation, disinformation, and stigmatization about mask-wearing. The #AfricaMaskWeek is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of consistent and correct mask-wearing, address misperceptions and mobilize compliance.

“Africa has the youngest population in the world. African youth are innovative, resilient and have shown unprecedented leadership before and during the response to the pandemic. The victory of this fight against the COVID-19 lies in the hands of young people that’s why I call on youth across the continent to join #AfricaMaskWeek and keep on wearing a mask. COVID-19 is still here and still being spread in Africa. Protect yourself and protect others. Let’s save our continent. Mask Up, stand up and don’t give up the fight!” said Aya Chebbi, African Union Special Envoy on Youth.

#AfricaMaskWeek reminds us to wear masks consistently and correctly to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. “#AfricaMaskWeek is a call to action for leaders and the people of Africa,” said Gabriel Fitzgerald, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should lead by example by consistently promoting mask-wearing and by wearing a mask in public. We must not rest or stop practicing those things that will help stop the spread of COVID-19, like handwashing, physical distancing and mask-wearing.”

For more information about #AfricaMaskWeek, please visit africamaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network comprises more than 55 multi-sector member and affiliate organizations that drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The network’s mission is to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods, both during this COVID-19 crisis and in future pandemics. In August, the Pandemic Network launched World Mask Week, August 7 – 14, 2020, which was kicked off by the #WearAMask social media challenge issued by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros and engaged more than 40 global partners to reach 3.5+ billion people across 145 countries with positive messages to raise awareness about the impact of wearing a mask and encourage mask wearing

About the African Union
The African Union leads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the regional economic communities and African citizens. The vision of the African Union is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission.

Learn more at: http://www.au.int/en

About the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at: http://www.africacdc.org.

CONTACTS:

Pandemic Action Network
Autumn Lerner (US)
[email protected]
+1-206-234-1156

Krystle Lai (UK)
[email protected]
+44-7425-517326

Africa CDC
James Ayodele
[email protected]
+251953912454

Africa Mask Week Rallies Continent to Continue Wearing Masks to Stop COVID-19

Cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are on the rise in Africa, nearing 2M and surpassing 46K, respectively as of the date of this blog. Despite the increasing spread, there is a low perception of both the risk of contracting the virus and of the severity of the disease, particularly among young people. But communities across the continent have demonstrated great resilience in the face of economic and epidemiological uncertainty over the last several months. It is crucial that this momentum continues until COVID-19 is brought under control.

To fuel that momentum, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Union Office of the Youth Envoy, the African Youth Front on Coronavirus, Resolve to Save Lives, and Pandemic Action Network are teaming up with more than 75 partners to launch Africa Mask Week – November 23-30, 2020. Building off of the success and learnings of World Mask Week, Africa Mask Week is a social media campaign focused on increasing and encouraging proper mask-wearing across the African continent, especially among young people. We are engaging influencers in sports, politics, and within local communities to champion the effort and lead by example and #WearAMask, and working with dozens of organizations around the world and on the continent to get the message out.

Africa Mask Week is a reminder that we must continue to wear masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The campaign is a call-to-action to the public to continue masking to protect themselves and their communities and a call-to-action to leaders and influencers to lead by example by practicing and promoting consistent mask-wearing. With your help, we can lay the foundation for pro-masking messages and behaviors to be carried through Africa Mask Week and beyond.

Lend your voice and help us spread the word!

Here’s how you can get involved throughout Africa Mask Week, November 23-30:

  • Adapt and share content across platforms using our sample social media posts from our social media and communications toolkit.
  • Highlight your involvement throughout the week by using the hashtag #AfricaMaskWeek.
  • Follow, retweet, share or like content from the Network.
  • Create your own content with people across your organization who are wearing masks during #AfricaMaskWeek and beyond.
  • Take a selfie of yourself wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. Get creative with fabric patterns and designs – we want to see how you style your mask!
  • If you can, tag the Pandemic Action Network in your custom posts and we will amplify with partners and through our social channels.
  • Make it personal: Issue a #WearAMask challenge to your followers by posting a photo tagged #WearAMask #AfricaMaskWeek and tag friends to do the same!

 

It’s Time for Africa Mask Week

By Nahashon Alouka, Regional Advisor for East and South Africa, Pandemic Action Network

As the world continues to be ravaged by the novel coronavirus, Africa has not been spared. With current cases exceeding 1.8 million and 43,000 deaths, Africa may have not yet suffered the exponential spread of infection as initially feared by many, but we are not out of the woods. If the recent alarming rises in cases in other parts of the world are any indicator for future risk and as more countries on the continent begin to report high daily infection rates, now is the time to be vigilant to protect our communities.

That’s why the Pandemic Action Network, together with Africa CDC, the Office of the AU Youth Envoy, Resolve to Save Lives, and 55+ partner organizations are launching Africa Mask Week from November 23-30 to accelerate and sustain mask-wearing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on the continent. Africa Mask Week will rally a social media movement of leaders and people to share and show that when we wear a mask, we are protecting our friends, our families, and our communities. 

Africa Mask Week aims to engage people across the continent with the support of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group and many other national partners. The campaign seeks to further awareness and understanding of the risks associated with COVID-19, influence increased adoption of mask-wearing as the new normal, encourage effective formulation and enforcement of policies on mandatory use of masks in public places, and influence policymakers to model proper masking behavior.

Until there are vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, wearing a mask is one of the best tools we have, especially when combined with physical distancing and hand washing. Overall, mask use in Africa is declining, but the COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We need leaders and the public to keep practicing what works to stop the spread. “COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

Today, more than 40 African countries have enacted policies on mandatory use of masks in public. The implementation has, however, been inconsistent and, in some cases, marred by human rights violations. Furthermore, there are documented rumors, untruths, and stigmatization of those who wear masks.

Africa Mask Week is an opportunity to turn the tide on inconsistent masking and misperceptions. Recent COVID-19 KAP survey data reveals that there is a high awareness and value for masking in Africa with 84 percent of respondents saying that wearing a face mask in public when near others is “absolutely necessary”. But we know that we are not practicing masking consistently and COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. It is important that we accelerate and sustain mask-wearing on the continent to reduce the spread of infections in our communities. There is increasing evidence in support of masking:

  • Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3
  • Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask-wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 
  • A study published in The Lancet examined data from 172 studies from 16 countries and six continents and found that face mask use could result in a large reduction in the risk of infection.6

 

Join us for Africa Mask Week – November 23-30 – by engaging your networks including policymakers, traditional and religious leaders, celebrities and other influencers, friends, and community members. Lead by example and #WearAMask to protect your community. Together we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

Contact: Autumn Lerner, Director of Communications, Pandemic Action Network at [email protected]

World Mask Week Sparks Global Movement

Leaders and people around the globe and across sectors unite around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic

 

When the Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced the launch of World Mask Week (August 7-14), we hoped for a rally around the simple behavior people could adopt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While the full accounting of the reach and engagement around World Mask Week will emerge in coming days and weeks, here’s what we know now: the world was ready and hungry for this moment. In 117 countries around the world via media coverage and social media, from business leaders to government leaders, and from celebrities to people living their daily lives– we’ve seen an outpouring of support for wearing masks in public to help put an end to this pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off the movement with the #WearAMask challenge marking the beginning of World Mask Week and asking people to share pictures and videos of their masks. And from there, the momentum continued to build with more than 800 thousand views, 4.6K+ shares and 7.8K likes to date on Twitter.

Africa CDC announced World Mask Week at a press briefing, followed by a Pandemic Action team presentation during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 for 260 journalists. Our colleagues on the continent also reached out to more than 200 sports journalists with tailored messaging and encouraging their participation in the challenge issued by Dr. Tedros. World Mask Week has inspired planning for a regional campaign with Africa CDC to promote masks across the region.

World Mask Week partners from across the global shared content on social media
including Africa CDC, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Breakthrough ACTION, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, CDC, CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Federation of American Scientists, FIND, GHTC, Global Citizen, Global Health Strategies, Johnson & Johnson, Kolisi Foundation, Last Mile Health, MSH, NFID, NTI, NYAS, ONE, PATH, PSI, UN Foundation, UNICEF, and many, many more.


Sample media coverage from 31 countries
includes USA Today (times two!), Good Morning America, Forbes, San Francisco Chronicle/MSN, Yahoo News, Modern Ghana, The Sun in Nigeria, Armenia Public Radio, OTV in India, International Daily News in China and Orel Times in Russia just to name a few.

Tech partners like Facebook, Google and Amazon have also centered World Mask Week. Facebook shared #WearAMask on their platform and amplified the message via their leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Naomi Gleit. Google posted a #WearAMask Google Doodle and shared World Mask Week social posts across their channels, as did Amazon.

Business leaders and businesses including Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, Kenneth Cole, Rite Aid, KFC Russia, and Viber also shared messages for World Mask Week.

World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper (over 9,500 members) and Young Global Leader (1,300 members and alumni) networks joined the effort on social media, while also featuring a blog post by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Rajeev Venkayya, President of Global Vaccine Business Unit, Takeda sharing why wearing a mask is the most important thing we can do right now. This was also shared on their COVID Action Platform.

The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, integrated World Mask Week messages and images into its games. Zynga, for example, through its popular Words With Friends 2 app launched World Mask Week with MASK as their World of the Day. The Episode app, a mobile storytelling platform where users choose the path of their story, promoted World Mask Week to its users.

FOX’s hit show The Masked Singer also joined the World Mask Week fun! They featured a special #WearAMask PSA for World Mask Week, and judge/comedian Dr. Ken Jeong posted on social. Throughout the week, FOX affiliates across the U.S. aired stories about the PSA and World Mask Week, including Good Day LA.

iHeartMedia also spotlighted the week, noting for their program directors: “…trending on social media with all demographics are posts about World Mask Week”.  The iHeart Communities podcast with Ryan Gorman interviewed Linda Venczel, Director, Global Health Security at PATH that was broadcasted 185 times across the country. Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook also participated in an interview with Gorman that aired on stations around the U.S. over the weekend.

The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called Why Masks Matter” explaining the growing global evidence for wearing a mask in public. Read a blog post from Co-Founder Eloise Todd to learn more. And just this week we’ve seen national and local governments adopt public mask mandates, including Ireland and the city of Brussels, with calls for a national mask mandate by leaders in the United States.

The US Congress also joined in World Mask Week and took up the #WearAMask challenge.  Senators  Toomey (R-PA) and Bennet (D-CO) kicked off the challenge in Congress and urged other Senators and Representatives to champion the message to their constituents, with their bipartisan resolution to encourage Americans to #WearAMask.  Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) also introduced a similar resolution in the House of Representatives to designate August 7-August 14, 2020 as World Mask Week.

Leaders from across the globe joined the conversation including Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden;  Judy Monroe, President of the CDC Foundation; Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport, Ethiopia; Dr. Jerome Adams, US Surgeon General; Dr. Robert Redfield, US CDC Director; US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV); US Representative David B. McKinley (R-WV); and many more.

Building on the Network’s #MaskingForAFriend campaign started in April, influencers and celebrities joined the World Mask Week movement including Kristin Chenoweth, Iris Apfel, Mayim Bialik, Billie Jean King, Tenille Arts and others. We welcome all performers, athletes and other influencers to continue to role model mask-wearing, because we’re all in this together!

 

The impact of this massive rally – this show of global solidarity – will reveal its impact as we see increases in people habitually wearing masks, in policies that mandate mask-wearing in public and in community-efforts to increase access to PPE, such as the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa.

For this to occur, the momentum must continue! While the spark ignited during World Mask Week, the energy, collaboration, and efforts must extend beyond the week. And we know that you – the partners and supporters of the Pandemic Action Network – are up for the challenge! You have already done so much, had such a massive impact, and we know that you will continue to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

Advocates Hail Bipartisan Senate Push to Urge Americans to Wear Masks in Public to Slow Spread of COVID-19

Toomey-Bennet Resolution, World Mask Week reinforce importance to #WearAMask

 

August 13, 2020, Washington, DC —The Federation of American Scientists and the Pandemic Action Network today lauded a bipartisan resolution led by US Senators Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to urge Americans to wear a mask when they are out in public. The announcement comes as the two groups have joined with the Centers for Disease Control, CDC Foundation, WHO, and 40+ partner organizations to launch World Mask Week from August 7-14 to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

“We commend Senators Toomey and Bennet and their co-sponsors for their leadership in sending this critical message to the American people,” said Dr. Ali Nouri, President, Federation of American Scientists. “The evidence on mask wearing is clear – together with hand washing and physical distancing, it is one of the best tools we have to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

“Wearing a mask should not be controversial. Study after study affirms that wearing a mask reduces the spread of coronavirus,” said Senator Pat Toomey. “As our economy continues to reopen and until a vaccine is available, wearing a face mask when you venture out is the most practical and cost effective manner in which we, as Americans, can do our part to protect one another. Please, for the benefit of your neighbors, friends, and those who live in your community, wear a mask. I thank the Pandemic Action Network for their continued advocacy on this important issue.”

“As COVID-19 continues to spread, this is a time for every American to take personal responsibility by wearing a mask in public,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “Mask wearing is an easy and inexpensive way for every American to do their part in the fight against this virus. The science is clear that wearing a mask significantly limits the transmission of the virus and helps keep those around you and your community safe. I’m grateful for the Pandemic Action Network’s support of my resolution with Senator Toomey urging mask wearing and for their work to advance this effort in the United States and around the world.”

“The Toomey-Bennet resolution reinforces our core message of World Mask Week: Wearing a mask saves lives,” said Carolyn Reynolds, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “It is critical that all of our elected leaders deliver clear and consistent messages and public policies on this, and I urge every member of the US Senate to follow their lead and show Americans that this is not a partisan issue.”

Americans can show their support for World Mask Week by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek and #WearAMask. Visit worldmaskweek.com for more.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

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Why Masks Matter

The Pandemic Action team has released a briefing on Why Masks Matter, detailing the growing evidence that wearing a mask or face covering can help slow the spread of the disease and save lives – especially when paired with handwashing, social distancing and when governments introduce effective test and trace policies. Until we have widely available treatments or a vaccine for COVID-19, it is up to every one of us to step up and do all we can to help beat this disease.

The evidence is piling up as to the effectiveness of mask-wearing. Masks are effective because they block large droplets from the wearer of the mask before they become aerosolized. New evidence also shows that mask wearing can reduce the amount of viral load that is passed on – lessening the severity of the impact of the disease on others .

Mask-wearing protects the people around you – my mask protects you and yours protects me, and there is increasing evidence masks help protect the wearer too. So, who should wear a mask, and when? We believe that to fight this pandemic as swiftly and effectively as possible, mask wearing needs to become the new normal. Here’s why:

First, people may have COVID-19 without knowing it. Studies show that people infected with COVID-19 may start to be infectious 1-3 days before the onset of their symptoms and they could even be most infectious in the 24 hours before symptoms appear. This underlines how important it is to wear a mask even when we’re feeling fine—plus some people may never show symptoms, but still have the ability to infect others.

Second, the effectiveness of universal masking could be comparable to that of a societal lockdown. Without the enormous economic, social, health and educational costs of closed workplaces, schools, and public spaces and limited geographical mobility. Mask-wearing is a complementary measure to other measures taken by governments, but right now huge decisions that are affecting everyone’s lives, education and livelihoods are being taken often before universal masking and other behaviours have been made policy and communicated widely. Modelling report cited in our brief shows that if everyone wore a mask, we could diminish the scale and the impact of COVID-19 swiftly.

Third, countries are starting to feel the benefits. An Oxford University study found that in countries where face coverings have been introduced as a national policy (often but not always alongside other measures), transmission rates fell in the subsequent days.

For all these reasons and more, we are calling for clear, comprehensive guidance on mask-wearing in public spaces. Our recommendations call for governments to make mask-wearing mandatory in public as well as properly enforce mask-wearing,  communicate the benefits of mask-wearing to the public, ensure mask supplies for healthcare and other frontline workers while also encouraging the public to wear face coverings. We also ask that they lead by example and wear a mask themselves. We call on businesses to adopt and implement mask-wearing policies and for everyone, everywhere, to don a mask when they leave their home. This simple measure can work if enough of us take collective action, wherever we are around the world.

Get involved, get your mask on, take a selfie and tag your friends to share widely. This is how we can help get this disease under control – together we can beat this if we #WearAMask, this #WorldMaskWeek and every week.

Will EU Leaders Act as Pandemic Preventers at Their First Face-to-Face Meeting This Week?

Will EU leaders act as pandemic preventers at their first face-to-face meeting this week?

On 17-18 July, EU leaders will meet for their first face-to-face European Council meeting since the beginning of the pandemic. They will discuss the EU recovery plan to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and the next long-term EU budget.

As they meet in Brussels, European leaders must lead by example by covering their face to protect those around them and encourage all EU citizens to follow suit. In their negotiations, they must ensure that the global COVID-19 response and pandemic preparedness and prevention efforts are protected and even increased. Proposed cuts to Heading VI (external action envelope) must be rejected.

Face mask use results in a large reduction in risk of infection. In the absence of a vaccine or medicine to fight COVID-19, hand hygiene, social distancing and mask wearing are the best tools we have against the disease. A simple barrier over the mouth and nose, even one that’s homemade, can trap the respiratory droplets that an infected person may release (including asymptomatic and presymptomatic individuals) and hence stop the virus from traveling onto other people. EU leaders should set an example for their citizens and encourage them to cover their face in public to become pandemic preventers. Giving the advice to wear a mask or homemade cloth face covering costs nothing; not doing so costs lives.

As they discuss the EU’s COVID-19 recovery plan and next 7-year budget, EU leaders must protect vital support to the global response to COVID-19 under the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and under the Humanitarian Aid Instrument. They must reject proposed cuts to EU aid in President Michel’s most recent negotiating box. EU Member States should endorse the Commission’s May 2020 proposal of €118 billion for Heading VI (external action envelope).        

They should also commit in the Council Conclusions to support the adoption of a global plan on pandemic preparedness and prevention to ensure that every country has the capacity to detect, prevent and respond to future outbreaks before they become deadly and costly pandemics and signal Europe’s willingness to invest billions today to save trillions tomorrow.

COVID-19 doesn’t recognise borders. Until we get rid of this disease globally everyone – including EU citizens – will be at risk. It is also essential that the world’s response to COVID-19 leaves a legacy for the future. Once and for all, we must break the deadly and costly cycle of panic and neglect that has left the world so vulnerable to pandemic threats.

World Mask Week Aims to Inspire Global Movement to Wear Face Coverings in Public to Help Stem Exponential Spread of COVID-19

World Mask Week (August 7-14) launched to encourage more people to do their part by wearing a mask in public

August 6, 2020, Seattle, WA—The Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week from August 7-14, an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.

Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world. And until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have – particularly where social distancing is not practical.

“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.

The initiative encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available. People can show their support by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek.

“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires everyone to play a role to keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy. Health experts have made it clear that wearing a mask is a key and simple preventive measure,” said KX Jin, Head of Health, Facebook. “We’re proud to partner on World Mask Week with leading health organizations as part of our commitment to connecting people to the expert guidance of those working on the frontlines.”

“Google is committed to helping share one simple message: Wear a Mask,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google. “From our homepage doodle, to providing information on Google Search and Maps, we are connecting people to helpful, authoritative resources that explain how wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”

The CDC Foundation is another Pandemic Action Network partner marking World Mask Week. “We’re committed to supporting the response to the public health threat posed by this virus, and wearing a face covering consistently and correctly is one of the most important things we can do as individuals to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Judy Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The CDC Foundation is helping organize and support a number of campaigns, including campaigns with CDC and the Ad Council, focused on the importance of face coverings to crush COVID-19.”

Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3 Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 Mathematical modeling shows that masks worn by 80-90 percent of the population coupled with social distancing could eventually eliminate the disease.6

“Inconsistent policies on masking have caused confusion and there is mounting evidence that failing to wear masks is contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should make clear and consistent policies around the importance of wearing a mask outside the home when in public. If nearly everyone wears a mask, practices handwashing and social distancing we can end the pandemic more quickly, prevent suffering and save lives.”

Global Citizen is supporting World Mask Week by encouraging Global Citizens to wear a mask. “We are proud to support World Mask Week as our supporters take action in every corner of the globe to push their leaders to adopt clear rules on wearing a mask in public,” said Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen. “We also need global leaders to govern by example. When we all wear masks, citizens become more focused on listening to the guidance of the medical community, and together we are better suited to help save lives.”

The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. World Mask Week provides the opportunity to continue to sustain this momentum, uniting disparate parties around a single message.

World Mask Week partners and activities represent a broad spectrum. For example:

    • WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched the #WearAMask challenge to mark the beginning of World Mask Week, asking people to share their mask photos and videos
    • Africa CDC will announce World Mask Week at their press briefing today and follow-up with a presentation by Pandemic Action Network during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 being organized for journalists later in the day. Africa CDC is also posting messages about World Mask Week on its social media platforms
    • The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, is integrating World Mask Week messages and images into its games
    • iHeartMedia is integrating World Mask Week content into their programming
    • World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper and Young Global Leader networks will join the campaign via social media

For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.

About the Pandemic Action Network
The Pandemic Action Network drives collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. The Network consists of 40+ organizations aligned on the mission to promote policies that save the most lives and protect livelihoods by ending the cycle of panic and neglect on pandemics.

References
1. CDC. About Cloth Face Coverings. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html.
2. Prather KA, Wang CA, Schooley RT. (2020). Reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Science 368(6498):144-1424.
3. Lyu W, Wehby, GL (2020). Community use of face masks and covid-19: evidence from a natural experiment of state mandates in the US. Health Affairs 39(8).
4. Chan TK. (2020). Universal masking for COVID-19: evidence, ethics and recommendations. BMJ Global Health 5:e002819. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002819.
5. Lai CC, Liu YH, Wang CY, et al. (2020). Asymptomatic carrier state, acute respiratory disease, and pneumonia due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): facts and myths. J Microbiol Immunol Infect 53 (3):404-412. doi:10.1016/j.jmii.2020.02.012.
6. Kai, De, Goldstein, Guy-Philippe, Morgunov, Alexey, Nangalia, Vishal, Rotkirch, Anna, Universal Masking is Urgent in the COVID-19 Pandemic: SEIR and Agent Based Models, Empirical Validation, Policy Recommendations, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340933456_Universal_Masking_is_Urgent_in_the_COVID-19_Pandemic_SEIR_and_Agent_Based_Models.

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Other World Mask Week Commitments

The following organizations are conducting additional activities for World Mask Week:

    • American College of Preventive Medicine will feature World Mask Week at Preventive Medicine 2020 Online (virtual conference)
    • The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is supporting World Mask Week through emails to its tropmed and global health communities, and
      by promoting #WorldMaskWeek on its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages
    • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will feature World Mask Week in their newsletter and on social media
    • Federation of American Scientists is leading the charge on advocating for a mask-related resolution in the U.S. Congress and supporting World Mask
      Week media and social media
    • FIND Diagnostics is sharing content across their social media channels and pitching an op-ed encouraging people to wear masks
    • Global Health Strategies is sharing content across their social media channels
    • Global Health Council is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • Global Health Technology Coalition is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • Goodbye Malaria is sharing content across their social media channels and is working to share World Mask Week messaging through the Ndlovu Youth
      Choir
    • Grayling is conducting World Mask Week activities in Russia including developing an op-ed for local media, work with influencers to share the message
      and promoting across social media
    • International Association of Providers in AIDS Care (IAPAC) will be participating via social media, through both the @IAPAC and @FastTrackCities
      handles
    • Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and Breakthrough ACTION for Social and Behavior Change are sharing
      World Mask Week with their global CCP field offices and Sister NGO partners
    • Management Sciences for Health is participating in the first ever World Mask Week by highlighting Senior Leadership and field team members across the
      globe on the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus and why they are #maskingforafriend”
    • Nuclear Threat Initiative is sharing content across their social media channels
    • ONE Campaign is publishing a blog and encouraging supporters (via email) to get involved in the week, sharing some of the best tips on how to
      correctly wear a mask on social media and sharing pictures of some of their global activists wearing their masks
    • PATH is sharing content across their social media channels, and Global Health Security Director Linda Venczel is available for media interviews
    • Rockefeller Foundation is participating in the World Mask Week social media campaign
    • United Nations Foundation is sharing content across their social media channels and engaging their influencer network to promote the week
    • UNICEF will be sharing UNICEF-related mask content and messaging on social media throughout World Mask Week