D. Shenell Reed
(Black PR Wire) Orlando, Fla. -- ONYX Magazine hosted a news conference with its partners Orlando Health, Orange Blossom Family Health Center, City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and other community leaders on the steps of Orlando City Hall Wednesday, July 1, to launch "MaskUp! Stop the Spread." This billboard campaign was developed to help slow the transmission of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which disproportionately impacts African Americans and those with underlying health issues. Starting July 6, the 30-day Clear Channel Outdoor billboard campaign will primarily show in and around African American communities in Orange County, which have been hardest hit by the virus. The campaign also will be delivered through social media platforms, digital marketing, websites, and print media beyond the billboard campaign run.
Local businesses are supporting the campaign and will be featured on the billboards: MaskUp! Sponsor Orlando Health; Stop the Spread Sponsor Orange Blossom Family Health Center; Buddy Dyer with City of Orlando Parramore Kidz Zone; Orange County Government; Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, founder, the 5000 Role Models of Excellence; Orlando City Commissioner Regina I. Hill, District 5; Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns, District 6; African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida; Bronze Kingdom African American Art Gallery; Central Florida Urban League; Crealde School of Art/Hannibal Square Heritage Center; The CORE HORUS Construction Team with Jones High School; Dick Batchelor Management Group; Downtown City Arts; Downtown Development Board; The Experience Christian Center; Orange County Health Department; and Orlando Magic.
ONYX Magazine's "MaskUp! Stop the Spread" grassroots campaign comes at a time of resurgence of coronavirus cases in Florida. While the virus seems to be an equal-opportunity killer, there’s no question that African Americans have been a favorite target, as a quarter of Americans who have died were Black. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for nearly 23 percent of this country’s COVID-19 patients. When Florida relaxed safety guidelines in May and began to reopen businesses, social distancing shrunk and mask-wearing became less commonplace. As a result, there have been more spikes in the number of cases. At the launch of the campaign on July 1, Orange County had a total of 8,837 confirmed cases and 56 deaths, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Community partners and elected officials spoke at the press conference:
"The message is not being given to the African American and Hispanic communities by people they trust. Therefore, they don't take this as a serious initiative to mask up."
ONYX Magazine Publisher Rich Black
"We know that it (COVID-19) has disproportionately impacted people of color and we know absolutely that simple face coverings are one of the more critical tools in combating the spread."
City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
"Orange County continues to see a surge in new cases and the pandemic has adversely impacted communities of color all across America, and this community is no different."
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings
"If we don't mask up, then we continue this pandemic, we continue to infect those that we love. The very life you save might be your mamma's. COVID is not just real, it kills."
Orlando City Commissioner Regina I. Hill, District 5.
“There’s a lot of stress during these times and we want to encourage individuals to stay informed."
Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns, District 6
"We stand here together speaking to our Black and Brown community, with people that look like us, please mask up. Each one reach one, each one teach one, the importance of masking up."
Paula Hoisington, Chair, Central Florida Urban League Board of Directors, Co-Chair "MaskUp! Stop the Spread"
Press Conference Speakers:
Rich Black, Publisher, ONYX Magazine;
Kelly Edmondson, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Assistant Vice President Orlando Health - Administration;
Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando;
Mayor Jerry Demings, Orange County;
Orlando City Commissioner Regina I. Hill, District 5;
Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns, District 6;
Paula Hoisington, Chair, Central Florida Urban League Board of Directors, MaskUp! Stop the Spread Co-Chair;
Bishop Derrick McRae, The Experience Christian Center, MaskUp! Stop the Spread Co-Chair.
About ONYX Magazine
ONYX Magazine is the premier publication that celebrates black achievement throughout Florida. Launched in 1997, the Orlando-based magazine remains committed to empowering its readers by offering entertaining, inspiring and informative stories and editorials focused primarily on the interests of African Americans, while promoting seamless, diversified connections with other cultures. ONYX Magazine hosts the annual ONYX Magazine's Women on the Move, which honors trailblazing women of color across Florida during Women's History Month; Black Men Honors, an event to recognize Florida’s most influential men; and the ONYX Business Connect, which brings together corporations and grassroots organization for shared enterprise opportunities. ONYX Magazine also is the parent of the ONYX Awards, which champions the astounding contributions African Americans have made to their local and global communities. In 2017, ONYX established the ONYX Foundation to enhance children’s awareness of literacy, the arts, black history, and financial well-being.