COVID-19 strategies: 4 ways to encourage people to wear masks

Published October 8, 2020

Executives at Blue Cross Blue Shield companies are utilizing various strategies on television and social media platforms to encourage widespread use of face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

Update, 1/25/21: This story has been updated to reflect President Joe Biden's executive order that mandates face masks in all federal buildings and on federal land. The order also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lead efforts to maximize public compliance and address obstacles to mask-wearing and other public health best practices identified by the CDC. The President also issued a second executive order that requires masks for travelers on domestic and international flights as well as those who use public transportation.

The CDC reviewed the latest science and affirms that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 particularly when used universally within communities. Despite the research supporting widespread use of masks, segments of the population question its effectiveness. That's why BCBS companies are taking leadership positions across America by producing public service videos to engage, educate and encourage more people to use masks.

Combating false narratives

In the midst of spikes in COVID-19 infections, leaders at Blue Shield of California (Blue Shield) developed a public strategy to support providers who were facing an 'uphill battle' to combat misinformation about masks. The result is a one-minute video "Masks Save lives" featuring up-close, black and white images of everyday people. The video encourages viewers to consider scientific data over opinions with a series of point, counterpoint messages...medical not political, clinical not cynical.

In less than three weeks since the campaign launched, the video has been viewed more than 5 million times on YouTube with an 80% positive (thumbs up) response. Despite the favorable reaction on social media, Blue Shield of California included a statement on its website acknowledging the message would be met with some skepticism: "It comes with the territory that not everyone will agree with what we say or how or when we say it, but it’s important that we not let perfection stop us from pursuing progress."

“COVID, cases are rising in half of the states, with California cases outside of Northern CA rising significantly. People are out and about without masks and avoiding the social distancing rules, and there is a level of concern being flagged in many states as to this right now,” said Jeff Robertson, Blue Shield Chief Marketing and Customer Officer.

The Masks Save Lives campaign was produced in English and Spanish for television and social media.

Engagement through education

Independence Blue Cross (Independence BC) executives are taking on the issue of masks through engagement and education. "Let us make history... beating COVID-19," says CEO Dan Hilferty as he offers encouragement to “wear a mask and keep up social distancing” among other tips. In a second video, Senior Medical Director Dr. Ronald J. Brooks addresses those who do not understand why they should wear face masks. "Let's all work together," says Brooks as he reminds viewers that people who show no COVID-19 symptoms can still carry the virus and unknowingly infect others. Independence BC also launched the “Behind the Mask” campaign, which encourages mask-wearing by using photos of local celebrities, sports figures, business leaders and others wearing masks.

Focus on the big picture

Florida Blue   produced two videos to provide context to the health crisis including a 30 second segment encouraging Floridians to continue supporting safety guidelines, “Things aren’t normal… so let’s keep doing our part.” The company's messaging also includes an emphatic plea from CEO Pat Geraghty. "Wear… a mask! COVID-19 is not easing up… each of us needs to do the right thing.”


Let the people do the talking

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina (BCBS South Carolina) is driving community engagement by launching an interactive website called Slow the Spread SC. The site includes face mask testimonials from community leaders and influential celebrities. In addition, a submission form allows members of the community to upload their own videos explaining why they wear masks. The site also tackles common misconceptions about coronavirus. The strategy is a partnership between BCBSSC and the South Carolina Medical Association and the South Carolina Hospital Association.

Click here to learn how BCBS companies are supporting their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 36 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide health care coverage for one in three Americans.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.