Austin Launches the “City of US” Campaign to Encourage Everyone to Wear Face Masks to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Photo courtesy of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce

As Austin quickly becomes a hotspot for the spread of the COVID-19 virus, city leaders took action Monday to require people to wear face masks.

Effective at midnight on Monday, all businesses must require their employees, customers, and vendors to wear masks in Austin, according to the latest order from Mayor Steve Adler.

Last week, Mayor Adler warned businesses to prepare their safety plans and asked that masks be used by employees, customers, and vendors. His latest order makes face masks mandatory.

And Monday afternoon, the Opening Central Texas for Business Task Force, along with the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce debuted a new campaign “Austin, Let’s Be a City of Us” to encourage everyone to wear a face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Austin Chamber President and CEO Laura Huffman, Mayor Adler, and Roy Spence, with Spence Communications, introduced the campaign during a press conference held online on Zoom.

“I love thinking of our city as a city of us because that’s so true,” Mayor Adler said.

This city’s residents were “willing to act to selflessly” in the common good and that helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the early stages but now cases are on the rise, and it’s time to buckle down again, Mayor Adler said.

“This is gut-check time,” Mayor Adler said.  “Are we as a community willing to step out and help one another?”

Cases of COVID-19 are skyrocketing and hospitalizations are increasing in Texas and Central Texas is seeing a big uptick.

On Monday, Texas has 114,881 cases of people testing positive for Coronavirus and 2,192 deaths. An estimated, 69,190 people have recovered from the disease in Texas.

Austin and Travis County have 6,399 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, up 1,053 cases from Friday, resulting in 112 lives lost, according to Adler. There are 181 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Austin area, with 86 in the ICU and 32 on ventilators.

The City of US campaign, created by Spence, CEO of Spence Communications, encourages Austinites to wear a face mask to protect against another spike in COVID-19. Spence is the creator of the “Don’t Mess With Texas slogan and antilitter campaign. He is also a founder of GSD&M.

“When you go out, wear a mask,” Spence said. “A mask on each of us will be a win for all of us. It will be a win for our small businesses. If we all wear a mask into these retail outlets, that’s one less thing that small business owners and their staff have to worry about.”

Spence said he got inspired to create the campaign when he noticed there is an US in Austin.

“When we are at our best, we are a better us,” he said.

“Local television stations will begin running the public service announcement this week,” according to a news release. The video features the song “Touch the Sky” byAustin-based Grammy-nominated group Black Pumas.

The Chamber has prepared a free digital toolkit for businesses at AustinCityofUs.com.

“We are still very much in the middle of this virus,” Adler said. “If our city is going to avoid pulling back on the economy or having our hospitals overwhelmed, we have to do something.”

This campaign empowers the community to do something to help each other and to help the economy, he said.

“Yes, we’ve relaxed too much,” Adler said. “Too many people have believed we are beyond this crisis, but we are in the middle of this. “

This is actually a boots on the ground campaign, Huffman said. Each business in Austin needs to be a part of this campaign, she said.

The Austin Emergency Supply Foundation is working to get free masks to small businesses, she said.

“If there is a US in Austin there is also a US in business, and that’s what we’re leaning into today,” Huffman said.

“When we have the power of us, there is no stopping us on what we can do together,” Spence said. “We are a city of goodness.”