UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - A church just outside of Tacoma wants to know if people are, “practicing safe six.” Six feet of social distancing that is.
The United Church of University Place uses its outdoor readerboard to remind people to keep their distance and wear a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
“Have fun with our neighborhood, as well as getting those important messages across,” said Pastor Cathlynn Law of UCUP.
There is a lot of traffic and foot traffic right in front of the readerboard. Law said the congregation thought it would be a simple yet effective way to share messages about coronavirus prevention. Several people were outdoors, Wednesday, walking, running and riding bikes near the church.
“Everybody’s friendly. There’s a guy jogging down here. Everybody is walking their dogs,” said James Floss, a neighbor walking his dog.
The message on the readerboard reads, “Thou shalt not COVID thy neighbor’s life. Wear thy mask.” Law explained many of their messages were inspired by other church signs from across the country.
Neighbors said they pass the UPUC church sign every day and some think it brings a light-hearted message to these uncertain times.
“I think it’s great. It inspires us,” said Floss.
“They’ve had interesting stuff for years. They always try to make it relevant to what’s going on,” said neighbor Samuel Robinson. “I think it’s good to take things seriously, but lighten up about it a bit. I think people respond to that better.”
Law said the board has been a fun way to share messaging about safe and healthy practices beyond the people in the congregation. Throughout the pandemic, the church has been posting several fun quotes about COVID-19 on the board and sharing on social media. Some messages were considered a little racy by people in the area.
“'Practicing safe six? Masking for a friend.' So, a double entendre, a little wordplay there,” said Law, explaining one of the quotes on the sign.
The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department said the board and its message is the kind of awareness it would like to see in more communities. The office has been sharing a couple of the church’s posts on social media, gaining several hundreds of likes.
“While we do not want the virus to go viral, it’s okay for our reader board to go viral,” said Law.
As the church prepares for another fun message, Law said she hopes those passing by will take heed to the meaning behind the words.
“We all need to do our part to keep the pandemic at bay,” said Law. “It’s part of the greater common good for our public health.”
Officials at the health department said they are looking for more community partners to share messages on coronavirus prevention. The department created a trusted messenger campaign and is encouraging the public to get involved.
“We’re working with respected people and organizations in Pierce County who want to have some fun on social media amplifying our posts. We’ve had everyone from politicians to coaches to the Tacoma Rainiers join us,” said Dale Phelps, a communications specialist for the health department.