Orleans commits $10K to regional outreach campaign to fight Covid

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2021 at 8:27 am

ALBION – Orleans County is spending $10,482 in a $150,000 regional campaign to boost vaccination rates to slow the increase in Covid cases.

The County Legislature on Monday agreed to spending, which will come from a portion of the federal American Rescue Plan money sent to the county.

One Legislator, Don Allport, opposed the move because he didn’t want “government to go after individuals” who have decided not to get vaccinated.

Allport said everyone knows about Covid which has dominated the news for nearly two years.

“It’s hard to believe anyone doesn’t know what’s going on with Covid,” he said. “Whether it’s federal, state or local money, it’s taxpayer money.”

Legislator Ken DeRoller said there is much misinformation and “a political twist” about vaccines and fighting Covid.

“We’re not getting good information,” he said.

There are also hard to reach populations, including the Mennonites and Amish communities.

DeRoller said the campaign will highlight the effectiveness of vaccines and their local availability.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and County Chief Administrative Officer Jack Welch join other county leaders from the nine-county Finger Lakes Region in frequent calls about fighting Covid.

The $150,000 campaign will be focused on the rural communities, and will target zip codes with low vaccination rates.

“This resolution coordinates advertising strategy to promote people to get their vaccines,” Johnson said.

Welch said the state has put lots of resources into outreach campaigns in urban areas, but not too much in rural communities.

“We’re trying to get a fair communication message out so they can make an informed decision,” Welch said.

In the resolution, legislators said new cases, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19 infections continue to rise within Orleans County and throughout the region. The county last week reached 100 deaths from Covid since March 2020.

The marketing and outreach strategy will be conducted by Common Ground Health and Causewave Community Partners. The campaign will include advertising in a number of local and regional outlets, earned media, and targeted direct mailings to particular populations within the region.

Orleans County recently had the highest percentage of positive Covid tests in the state. That has started to decline but the county still had over 200 active Covid cases on Monday.

Orleans has made some gains in its vaccination rate. It had the lowest vaccination rate last spring, but now is ahead of 12 other counties.

In Orleans, 57.1 percent of population has had at least one vaccination dose, and 66.1 percent of population 18 and older with at least one dose.

That compares to 76.7 percent of total population in state with at least one dose, and 88.0 percent who are 18 and older in state with at least one dose.

The 57.1 percent in Orleans with at least one dose is ahead of Allegany at 47.9%; Tioga, 50.2%; Lewis, 52.2%; Fulton, 53.1%; Cattaraugus, 54.1%; Seneca, 54.2%; Chemung, 55.4%; Steuben, 55.5%; Wyoming at 55.5%; Yates, 56.4%; Delaware, 56.7%; and Herkimer, 56.8%.