White House, media team up for virus public service campaign

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks as Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, and President Donald Trump listen during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — First lady Melania Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci will take part in public service messages aimed at informing Americans about how to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.

The White House said Wednesday it’s joining with major media companies, digital platforms and the Ad Council to share “accurate and timely information directly to the American people” about social distancing, hygiene and mental health.

The announcements, known as PSAs, will direct people to coronavirus.gov, which a centralized source of updated information on the crisis, according to a White House statement.

Media outlets are donating air time, with all content coordinated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Fauci is the government’s top infectious disease expert. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams and other administration officials also will take part in the PSAs.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

Among the companies involved in the information campaign and the steps they’re taking:

— NBCUniversal will create English- and Spanish-language videos and graphics aimed at helping inform high-risk groups.

— A PSA campaign labeled #AloneTogether and developed by ViacomCBS in partnership with the Ad Council will focus on the importance of social distancing. The English- and Spanish-language campaign will be led by ViacomCBS brands including MTV, Comedy Central and CMT, and supported by Nickelodeon, BET and others. A CBS campaign will include essential public health messages.

— Walt Disney Television and its ABC network will reach out with messages for parent and families across the company’s channels and platforms.

— iHeartMedia’s network of radio stations will help get word out about virus-related topics, including social distancing.

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