The leaders of several Venango County organizations are uniting to encourage residents and visitors to wear masks when moving about in the community if unable to distance more than six feet and especially when entering businesses.
Over the last four months, leaders from the region have worked together to navigate through many challenges. All have agreed that the goal over the remainder of the pandemic is to work together in keeping the community safe and businesses open. To that end, they agree that encouraging mask wearing is necessary to move in the right direction. Businesses have already had additional restrictions added recently and if orders are not effective in slowing the spread, the probability of a full shutdown or stay at home order becomes greater.
The Mask of Wellness campaign is a nationwide, strategic approach to opening society in a manner promoting wellness socially, physically, and emotionally. Started in Iowa City by two doctors, the grassroots initiative supports re-opening in a safe, “COVID conscious” manner by focusing on three elements of safety:
- Masks are worn in all areas of the work environment.
- Hygiene is respected for hands and surfaces.
- Health – signs of illness are recognized and screened for.
Businesses can request Mask of Wellness materials by signing up at maskofwellness.com, and questions can be directed to Venango County leadership through email at VenangoWellnessMask@gmail.com.
Many businesses are sharing the frustrations of dealing with customers, who at best are apathetic and at worst refuse to wear masks. The business community is trying to follow guidelines and establish their own protocols. As a customer, simply walking into a business wearing a mask can ease the concerns of the business and allow them to focus on serving customers, instead of worrying about enforcing guidelines.
Ultimately, the campaign aims to inspire individuals to join together in a spirit of kindness and respect, knowing that masks benefit the health and wealth of our community.
As communities across the country see a rise in COVID-19 cases, there is a looming threat of businesses being directed to close and more events being cancelled, all in the interest of public safety. Venango County, while seeing additional cases, continues to have relatively low numbers. Local leaders want to keep it that way.
Health officials have consistently recommended that properly wearing a mask is an effective way to protect each other from the spread of COVID-19. Business leaders suggest that wearing a mask may also be the best thing to do to keep our businesses open. There has been much debate over whether mask wearing is required or recommended, ultimately placing the responsibility of whether to follow guidelines on community members. PA Department of Health requires that businesses follow their guidelines or risk more restrictions on how and when they can operate.
It is hard to imagine a more challenging time to be in business. Events have provided an additional economic boost to the business community, but this year many have been cancelled. There has been strong local support of businesses across the region throughout the pandemic, however, there continues to be a desire for a return to normalcy. Local leaders respectfully suggest: “Let’s unite in taking the best path forward to keep our businesses open by practicing the three recommended steps of wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart and frequent hand washing.”
Local success relies on local support to stop the spread of COVID-19. We are asking for all residents of the County to join us in keeping our community safe and moving in the right direction and, above all, being kind and respectful to one another, even when our views are different.
This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s August 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.