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LA County Tries New Social Media Campaign To Drive Home COVID Crisis: #Every10Minutes

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Screenshot: LA County Dept. Of Public Health Twitter Page
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After months of begging the public to stay home, L.A. County's Department of Public Health is trying something different: appealing to our most basic sense of human empathy.

The department's end of year Twitter campaign points out a grim statistic: someone in L.A. County dies every 10 minutes from COVID-19.

To draw attention to what that actually means, beyond the waterfall of numbers and statistics we've become numb to, the department is sharing descriptions of the people who could lose their lives, if we don't pay attention and do the right thing. It could be your mom, your sister, your brother. It could be someone else you know:

The barber who got the lines right.

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The high school guidance counselor.

The cool aunt.

The Lakers fan who told stories about seeing Magic and Kareem at the Forum.

Someone who stopped to help a person whose car broke down on the 5.

A grandmother who loved to sing to her grandchildren.

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The grocery store clerk who always asked about your kids.

Dad.

The account is sending out tweets like this every 10 minutes, for 24 hours, ending at midnight tonight. Each tweet includes this message: "Please wear a face covering when outside. Slow the spread. Save a life" and the hashtags #Every10Minutes #LACounty.

Crafting a public message that asks the public to socially isolate for months, indefinitely, is difficult — to say the least. L.A.'s message has been consistent: Stay at home. Stay at home. Stay at home. That worked in March, when we all went into emergency mode, when the whole situation felt temporary. But as time passed, and passed...and passed, the message started to lose its meaning. Since then the department has faced criticism from all sides -- that their messaging has been at times, confusing, mixed, repetitive. It's been perceived as too harsh or not harsh enough, not nuanced enough, not forgiving enough, not effective enough. It's hard to get people to care, and keep caring, as the days, weeks, months go by.

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This Twitter effort marks a new attempt to appeal to our shared humanity. We might not see photos of each person who died, as we do in mass shootings or after major events such as 9/11. But that doesn't mean each of the 10,000 Angelenos who've been lost to the coronavirus weren't real people, with families, lives, stories.

A spokesperson from the health department explained the goal to LAist via email:

"We want to highlight the devastating impact of COVID-19 on our community; more than 10.000 people passing away this year, and all were loved by and loved others."

The comments on these posts are a familiar mix of COVID-denial, anger, and appreciation. Who knows if it will work.

But in a few weeks, when we get the post-holiday case numbers, we'll see if the message was received.

At this point, as the surge continues and hospitals beginning to ration care, as we reach the most deadly point, locally since the pandemic began, the county has nothing left to lose.

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