Call it #PalouseUnity 2.0.

This time, it’s not just Joe Vandal and Butch T. Cougar working together to combat community spread of COVID-19.

It’s everybody—from healthcare workers and first responders to business leaders in both Pullman and Moscow, as well as Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

“The primary message is we are the Palouse. We are one community. We happen to be separated by a border, but we are all working together to keep each other safe and healthy,” said Phil Weiler, vice president for marketing and communications at Washington State University. “It takes all of us. We’re all in this together.”

The renewed and expanded effort launched today. New partners include Gritman Medical Center, Moscow Chamber of Commerce, Palouse Medical, Pullman Chamber of Commerce, Pullman Regional Hospital, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

“Everyone wants to be involved. Every segment of our community is saying, ‘We support this.’ It suddenly has become this very broad coalition,” Phil Weiler said.

“We’re a naturally collaborative community; being diligent in COVID-19 precautions, like masking, is one more example that we’re all in this together. It’s so important we each do our part,” said Rueben Mayes (WSU ’92 Soc. Sci., ’00 MBA), chief development officer at Pullman Regional Hospital.

“People on the Palouse know the value of hard work and community. By working together to protect our neighbors, we can keep our whole community safe and healthy,” said Peter Mundt, director of community relations and marketing at Gritman Medical Center in Moscow. “Each of us can do our part to defeat COVID-19 simply by wearing masks, keeping social distance, limiting gatherings, frequently washing our hands, and getting the vaccine when it is available. A safe and brighter 2021 is just around the corner if we all do our part.”

Like last time, community members are encouraged to show their regional pride and spirit of cooperation with the hashtag #PalouseUnity.

The health-and-safety message is similar, too. Along with unity, the campaign is calling for community members on both sides of the border to:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash their hands.
  • Watch their distance. That is, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from people, especially indoors.

“They’re being called the three Ws,” said Jeanne Weiler, downtown initiatives coordinator in the Office of the President at WSU Pullman.

A year into the pandemic, these strategies remain key in fighting COVID-19. “When we have broad vaccinations across the nation, it’s going to change the make-up of this pandemic,” Jeanne Weiler said. “But, right now, we are in a precarious situation.”

The broadened campaign is largely centered on social media. Expect to see some recognizable faces.

“These are your friends. These are your neighbors. These are people from all walks of life in the Palouse region,” said Phil Weiler, noting the aim is to show that “everybody has a role to play in keeping our friends and neighbors safe.”

Radio and print advertising is also slated to accompany the social media efforts. And there are already plans to expand the messaging. Once vaccines become more readily and widely available, the campaign will be promoting them, too.

“Your medical community is doing its part to care for you during a pandemic. And I see our community doing its part. Making safe practices part of our daily lives is one way we’ll get through this. It’s working,” said, Dr. Pete Mikkelsen, medical director of emergency services at Pullman Regional Hospital. “While we’ve seen lulls followed by terrible surges in COVID-19 illness in the community, recently we’ve had fewer patients sick with COVID-19, and we’re grateful for that. We’ve got to remain vigilant. Please continue to wear your mask, appropriately distance and, when it’s available to you, please, please get your vaccine.”