World Mask Week Sparks Global Movement

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Leaders and people around the globe and across sectors unite around the importance of mask wearing to slowing the pandemic


When the Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, CDC and CDC Foundation, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced the launch of World Mask Week (August 7-14), we hoped for a rally around the simple behavior people could adopt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

While the full accounting of the reach and engagement around World Mask Week will emerge in coming days and weeks, here’s what we know now: the world was ready and hungry for this moment. In 117 countries around the world via media coverage and social media, from business leaders to government leaders, and from celebrities to people living their daily lives– we’ve seen an outpouring of support for wearing masks in public to help put an end to this pandemic.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off the movement with the #WearAMask challenge marking the beginning of World Mask Week and asking people to share pictures and videos of their masks. And from there, the momentum continued to build with more than 800 thousand views, 4.6K+ shares and 7.8K likes to date on Twitter.

Africa CDC announced World Mask Week at a press briefing, followed by a Pandemic Action team presentation during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 for 260 journalists. Our colleagues on the continent also reached out to more than 200 sports journalists with tailored messaging and encouraging their participation in the challenge issued by Dr. Tedros. World Mask Week has inspired planning for a regional campaign with Africa CDC to promote masks across the region.

Sample media coverage from 31 countries
includes USA Today (times two!), Good Morning America, Forbes, San Francisco Chronicle/MSN, Yahoo News, Modern Ghana, The Sun in Nigeria, Armenia Public Radio, OTV in India, International Daily News in China and Orel Times in Russia just to name a few.

Tech partners like Facebook, Google and Amazon have also centered World Mask Week. Facebook shared #WearAMask on their platform and amplified the message via their leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Naomi Gleit. Google posted a #WearAMask Google Doodle and shared World Mask Week social posts across their channels, as did Amazon.

Business leaders and businesses including Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg, Kenneth Cole, Rite Aid, KFC Russia, and Viber also shared messages for World Mask Week.

World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper (over 9,500 members) and Young Global Leader (1,300 members and alumni) networks joined the effort on social media, while also featuring a blog post by Pandemic Action Network Co-Founder Gabrielle Fitzgerald and Rajeev Venkayya, President of Global Vaccine Business Unit, Takeda sharing why wearing a mask is the most important thing we can do right now. This was also shared on their COVID Action Platform.

The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, integrated World Mask Week messages and images into its games. Zynga, for example, through its popular Words With Friends 2 app launched World Mask Week with MASK as their World of the Day. The Episode app, a mobile storytelling platform where users choose the path of their story, promoted World Mask Week to its users.

FOX’s hit show The Masked Singer also joined the World Mask Week fun! They featured a special #WearAMask PSA for World Mask Week, and judge/comedian Dr. Ken Jeong posted on social. Throughout the week, FOX affiliates across the U.S. aired stories about the PSA and World Mask Week, including Good Day LA.

iHeartMedia also spotlighted the week, noting for their program directors: “…trending on social media with all demographics are posts about World Mask Week”.  The iHeart Communities podcast with Ryan Gorman interviewed Linda Venczel, Director, Global Health Security at PATH that was broadcasted 185 times across the country. Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook also participated in an interview with Gorman that aired on stations around the U.S. over the weekend.

The Pandemic Action team published a policy briefing called Why Masks Matter” explaining the growing global evidence for wearing a mask in public. Read a blog post from Co-Founder Eloise Todd to learn more. And just this week we’ve seen national and local governments adopt public mask mandates, including Ireland and the city of Brussels, with calls for a national mask mandate by leaders in the United States.

The US Congress also joined in World Mask Week and took up the #WearAMask challenge.  Senators  Toomey (R-PA) and Bennet (D-CO) kicked off the challenge in Congress and urged other Senators and Representatives to champion the message to their constituents, with their bipartisan resolution to encourage Americans to #WearAMask.  Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) also introduced a similar resolution in the House of Representatives to designate August 7-August 14, 2020 as World Mask Week.

Leaders from across the globe joined the conversation including Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden;  Judy Monroe, President of the CDC Foundation; Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport, Ethiopia; Dr. Jerome Adams, US Surgeon General; Dr. Robert Redfield, US CDC Director; US Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV); US Representative David B. McKinley (R-WV); and many more.

Building on the Network’s #MaskingForAFriend campaign started in April, influencers and celebrities joined the World Mask Week movement including Kristin Chenoweth, Iris Apfel, Mayim Bialik, Billie Jean King, Tenille Arts and others. We welcome all performers, athletes and other influencers to continue to role model mask-wearing, because we’re all in this together!


The impact of this massive rally – this show of global solidarity – will reveal its impact as we see increases in people habitually wearing masks, in policies that mandate mask-wearing in public and in community-efforts to increase access to PPE, such as the COVID-19 Action Fund for Africa.

For this to occur, the momentum must continue! While the spark ignited during World Mask Week, the energy, collaboration, and efforts must extend beyond the week. And we know that you – the partners and supporters of the Pandemic Action Network – are up for the challenge! You have already done so much, had such a massive impact, and we know that you will continue to help put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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