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People showing their support for #PowerOfPublicHealth808

To help demonstrate the power of public health in Hawaiʻi, two University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Office of Public Health Studies faculty launched a social media campaign #PowerOfPublicHealth808 to promote wearing face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Denise Nelson-Hurwitz, an assistant professor at the Office of Public Health Studies in the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work, and Lisa Kehl practicum coordinator at the Office of Public Health Studies, designed the social media campaign #PowerOfPublicHealth808 to empower Hawaiʻi’s community to do their part to help keep people safe by wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wanted the campaign, and hashtag, to be empowering, and relevant to our local community,” said Kehl. “We feel the aloha spirit practiced throughout Hawaiʻi, and our strong sense of community encourages us to protect our neighbors, families and ourselves from COVID-19 by practicing physical distancing and wearing masks.”

To participate, post a photo of you, your family or organization, wearing face masks and add the caption “I/we wear a mask to protect…” on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, using the hashtag #PowerOfPublicHealth808.

“We’ve seen growing participation on Facebook and Twitter from many age groups,” said Nelson-Hurwitz. “I’ve especially loved seeing our students and graduates living out their public health training and posting their masked selfies.”

Among those showing support for the social media campaign are Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige, who posted a photo wearing their masks on Facebook and Instagram.

“Wearing a mask has been effective in limiting the transmission of respiratory diseases for over a century. It is more effective at protecting others, but it is still effective at reducing the risk of getting sick yourself,” said Nelson-Hurwitz. “We in Hawaiʻi can do this for our kupuna and our keiki, for our high-risk populations, including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and we can again demonstrate to the world why we’re lucky to live in Hawaiʻi.

—By Sarah Hendrix

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