As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to spike, Contra Costa County is turning to a new tactic to help turn things around -- teens and social media.
The county is recruiting youth ambassadors to share the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.
Like most teenagers, 16-year-old Alyssa Vicario spends a lot of time on social media.
“During the day, whether only on Instagram, using it for school,” she said.
Contra Costa County hopes to tap into that captive and creative audience by recruiting these youth ambassadors to share the facts and impacts of the pandemic by posting their experiences on social media.
“Peer to peer conversations is what’s important and social media that’s where their at and they listen to one another,” said Ryan Shumaker from Contra Costa County Health Services.
He says more than 550 youth have applied. The county says their creativity and influence can really drive home the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.
“It really tells the health department that we have to really gauge and harness the power of young people and it really tells us young people are so, so ready to understand this virus and they want to do something about it,” said Shumaker.
Vicario says she thinks the approach is a great idea. She says she’s much more likely to pay attention to a peer and thinks youth ambassadors can make a difference.
“I hope people will really truly understand this pandemic we’re going through. This is something that’s going to be in the history books. It's really important everyone understands the effects,” said Vicario.
The county will select the youth ambassadors this week. They’ll be getting a $525 stipend for their social media posts through the end of the year.