The Safe & Healthy Big Bend Initiative, a united effort of Big Bend community leaders in local government, health care, education, business, and the faith community, this week launched a series of public service announcements (PSAs) on COVID-19 and its impact on the region.
“We live in a blessed community, with strong leadership that identified early on that we have to come together, we have to be on the same page, and we have to move forward together in our response to COVID-19,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey. “Consistent and clear communication is key to fighting the pandemic successfully, and that’s the purpose of Safe & Healthy Big Bend’s PSA messages.”
The television and radio PSAs will be broadcast locally and feature numerous Big Bend community leaders involved in the Safe & Healthy Initiative. As the situation regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine continues to develop, local leaders are staying engaged with community members, updating their messages to reflect changing developments.
“We must all do our part to help our community get through this tough time,” said Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna. “Keeping our students, teachers, and administrators safe throughout this process has been our number one priority, and these PSAs are an important way for us to continue working together within our community to stay educated about COVID-19.”
While many Big Bend residents are experiencing “pandemic fatigue,” Safe & Healthy Big Bend reminds that everyone must stay vigilant, continue fighting to protect themselves and the community from the pandemic, and consider getting the vaccine in order to defeat COVID-19 and regain the moments with friends and family that have been missed for so long.
“COVID-19 has hit the Big Bend hard, and the worst still might not be over,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Rick Minor. “Vaccines offer promise to get past this, but now is not the time to let our guard down. A huge part of the PSA message is that we want to remind our community to keep fighting – wear a mask or two, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, don’t gather in large crowds, keep getting tested, get vaccinated, and donate plasma. Together, we will get through this pandemic.”
Brenda Holt, Chair of the Gadsden County Commission, agreed. “These PSAs are so important because we’re all tired of COVID-19 but we have to continue fighting it as a community. Protect your friends, protect your family, and protect your neighbors, because we have to be good neighbors in order for us all to survive this pandemic,” she said.
Formed in November 2020 and supported by Leon County Government, the Leon County Coronavirus Vaccination Community Education and Engagement Task Force focuses on building confidence and trust in COVID-19 vaccines while addressing concerns and hesitancy in communities of color. Dr. Elaine Bryant serves as the local leader of the task force while also participating on the State of Florida’s minority outreach task force. Dr. Bryant also serves with and advises the Big Bend Safe & Healthy Initiative in a coordinated and targeted effort to reach the entire community by leveraging trusted faces and trusted places.
Already, the Leon County task force has engaged dozens of community health advocates to reach thousands of citizens in door-to-door engagement and virtual town halls, most recently operating a drive-up and walk-up vaccine clinic in the area of New Mt. Zion AME Church. Outreach and engagement will continue throughout the summer so as to ensure communities of color have both education about and access to the vaccine.
“These public service announcements will act as a reminder to Big Bend residents that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet,” said Dr. Elaine Bryant, CEO of EW Bryant Associates. We must continue to become an educated and engaged community and stay vigilant in protecting ourselves, our families and our neighbors. That’s how we’ll get through this —TOGETHER.”
Spanning across Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, and Wakulla counties, Safe & Healthy Big Bend aims to use trusted local messengers to encourage vaccine acceptance, help residents access vaccines, and promote the continued practice of behaviors that stop the spread of the coronavirus. Additionally, the Safe & Healthy website, SafeAndHealthyBigBend.com, is a hub for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in the Big Bend area, featuring details on where and how to get tested or access a vaccine, FAQs from local health experts, and much more.