By MADDY VITALE
As the beaches, Boardwalks and businesses begin to open up, officials are taking a proactive approach to lessen the spread of COVID-19 with one measure that seems easy enough – using volunteers to remind beachgoers, shoppers, and strollers not to get too close.
During the first day of the program, volunteers and Cape May County health officials were in Cape May on Friday to promote the new social distancing campaign called “Six Feet Saves.”
The name is taken from another community with a proven success model for public outreach in this health crisis, officials said Friday.
And the message is the same — emphasizing the need for standing at least six feet from a stranger unless wearing a face mask.
On Friday, a host of volunteers working in concert with the Cape May County Health Department were in Cape May to help educate people about the importance of social distancing, how to properly put on and use a face mask and other questions the public may have in the wake of the pandemic.
“We here at the Cape May County Department of Health and the freeholder board want to remind people in the community to practice social distancing and always wear their masks,” explained Liberty Kocis, health educator and risk communicator for the Cape May County Health Department.
She continued, “We are taking a positive campaign reinforcement. We are out there in the community to help anyone who may have questions.”
The first day of the program attracted national attention and media outlets from all over, officials noted.
Freeholder Jeff Pierson, the liaison to the health department, said the freeholders are hopeful that the ambassadors, who wear special vests adorned with the county seal, only add to the positive response from visitors and residents to follow guidelines.
“We are glad that the beaches, boardwalks, and promenades across the state will open up by Memorial Day, but social distancing is still needed,” Pierson said. “We are working with our ambassador program to inform people of proper protocols and the safest ways possible to enjoy our beautiful shoreline.”
On Monday, the volunteers, who have completed virtual training, will be in Ocean City and then in Sea Isle City on Tuesday. The plan, officials said, is to be present in high-traffic shore communities throughout much of the summer.
“We have doctors and nurses, EMTs and a lot of teachers in the program and other professionals,” Kocis said. “We are in an emergency situation. We can use all of the help we can get, and we are always looking for volunteers.”
Although the state is beginning to loosen restrictions and people are social distancing, there are still many positive COVID-19 cases in the county, she noted.
“We are not out of the woods yet. We want to encourage people to use their masks and be mindful that although we are allowed to be out on the Boardwalk, people need to use their masks,” she said.
Kocis added that she is excited to see how it goes.
If anyone would like to know more about the program visit www.cmchealth.net