KENT COUNTY, Mich. — The Kent County Health Department has teamed up with all 3 of the major hospital networks in West Michigan to urge families to celebrate Thanksgiving apart this year, in an attempt to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the county.
With Kent County now seeing more than 500 new confirmed cases a day, the local positivity rate is at it's highest since the start of the pandemic.
As we all make plans for Thanksgiving, they are launching an ad campaign across TV, radio and the internet that asks folks to show their family love this year by staying home.
“We're concerned that our hospitals are going to become overwhelmed. We're concerned that our contact tracers aren't going to be able to keep up the pace. And we're very concerned for the safety and welfare of the people of Kent County,” said Steve Kelso, communications and marketing manager for the county health department.
The $250,000 campaign is funded entirely by money from the CARES act, and will run through the Thanksgiving holiday. They will launch another series of ads in December.
“We were hoping by putting together this commercial, that we would also give people the tools that maybe they could use, and the language they could use, because we certainly understand these are difficult conversations,” Kelso told FOX 17 Thursday afternoon.
“We knew that a lot of folks have a lot of guilt associated with not coming home for the holidays, or guilt with with the idea of of missing big family events," said Josh Leffingwell, a partner at Well Design.
"So, we wanted to give them the language to say, it's not that I don't love you... That's why I'm not coming. But instead, it's, I love you, so I'm not coming.”
The video campaign not only asks families to celebrate apart, but also encourages the notion that people can still gather for the holiday over video chat, or other means.
“We wanted to move past this idea of social distancing, we know that you need to be physically distant, but that doesn't mean that you need to be socially distant. Get together with your family over Zoom or over a video chat and still be a part of their holiday,” Leffingwell said.
The ads intending to keep families safe this holiday season, so they're around to celebrate another one next year.
“Not just is the Kent County Health Department and the 3 hospitals all in this together, but really, the collective we, we're all in this together. And we're hoping that if people will stay home and enjoy this Thanksgiving alone with their own households, then maybe next year we'll have a whole lot more to be thankful for.”
You can watch one of the new campaign videos HERE.
The latest updates on COVID-19 in Kent County is always available on the health department's website.