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Hamilton County Public Health using social media to target COVID messaging at younger populations

Posted at 5:26 PM, Nov 16, 2020

Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated that people age 20 to 29 made up the majority of coronavirus cases in Cincinnati as of Monday afternoon. While that age group makes up a plurality of cases, it does not constitute a majority of cases. WCPO regrets the error.

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio -- As COVID-19 cases continue to grow daily by the thousands across the Tri-State, Hamilton County Public Health is using social media to target different groups of people to encourage wearing masks and social distancing, especially as the holiday season approaches.

"I think there are different messages we’re trying to get out," said Hamilton Co. Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman. "Some of Thanksgiving and the holiday messages, we’re trying to reach some of the younger crowd."

Kesterman said the health department's goal is to use social media and get people to stop scrolling and to stop spreading the virus.

"The truth is, we’re trying to be really catchy here and get that message out," he told WCPO. "We’re just hoping some of the new messages are just catchy enough that people think twice before clicking on and forgetting about us."

Here's another Facebook post, from Nov. 10:

Kesterman said the posts are designed to combat what has become known as "COVID fatigue," especially prevalent among younger populations. As of Monday afternoon, Cincinnati residents age 20 to 29 made up the largest age group reporting COVID-19 cases in the city.

"We know that they’re tired of COVID-19. We know that they want to go out and play, but the truth is if you’re going to have drinks with friends, now is not the time," he said.

The departments posts come during a time when Gov. Mike DeWine is pleading with Ohio residents to refrain from large family or social gatherings and drinking and dining at public establishments.

On Monday, Ohio reported 7,268 new cases of the novel coronavirus across the state, down nearly 1,000 from Friday's record of more than 8,000 but still much higher than the average daily new-case count just a month ago.

"We do want to send messages out that are positive and keep people thinking about things, which I think some of our more recent campaigns have done. But some of our messages are intended to make sure people know that there are consequences," Kesterman said.