In the hopes of getting back to some semblance of normal life, a Bakersfield couple is hoping to appeal to a particular trait well-known among locals: coming together for a good cause.
Shanna Treanor, a dermatologist with Bakersfield Dermatology, and her husband, Fernando Fan, local chief of pediatrics for Kaiser Permanente, have started a campaign to encourage mask wearing, which they believe is essential to stop the spread of COVID-19. With their two teenage sons, the family designed a logo of a masked emoji and a slogan — Mask Up to Open Up — and had yard signs made. For $20 — the cost to print the sign — anyone who wants to spread the message can get one. And coming soon: face masks and decals.
"In Bakersfield we come together for a lot of different causes" Fan said. "We need to come together for this. This is a cause that’s affecting us locally."
The project got underway, Treanor said, when the idea of wearing masks was questioned by some and she told her husband she wanted to do something positive to encourage people to change. She felt it was important for local physicians to speak up and promote mask wearing. And she also has a sincere desire to get back to the normal activities she and her family enjoyed.
"We’re like everyone else; we want to get back together with friends, go to church, get our kids back to school," said Treanor, a Bakersfield native who met her husband while they were both in residency at Valley Children's Hospital in Madera.
As a doctor, Fan said he had also started to feel limited in what he could do to help. By the time a patient came to him with virus symptoms "the cat's out of the bag, the transmission has already happened." And that patient may have already transmitted the virus to someone else, he said.
"The key to controlling the pandemic is primary prevention and we see it as masking," Fan said. "Most people need to do this to cut the transmission down."
So far the couple has distributed about 100 signs and the couple is looking to form partnerships with any local businesses, schools or community groups. More than 200 people have also joined their campaign's Facebook group, where they post funny memes and pictures of clever signs about mask wearing. One post shares a reminder to "treat your mask like underwear," which includes reminders such as not to borrow or lend it, make sure it's clean and don't go commando.
The good-natured humor is in keeping with the apolitical and straightforward sentiment of the campaign. Another photo shows a box of masked smiley face cookies from Smith's Bakeries, which Treanor spotted one day when she went to buy some goodies.
"The timing is good," said Matt Constantine, director of Kern County's Public Health Services Department, when told about the campaign Friday. That same day, Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled out a new process for business reopenings that loosens restrictions on businesses as counties bring down their COVID-19 cases. The new process makes clear that steps taken in individual communities to stop the virus will determine how soon a county can more fully reopen.
"If we can all mask, it helps the community. People want to have the economy going and want to have their jobs back," Fan said. "But if we don’t mask up, we won’t get there."