Missouri to use media influencers to promote COVID-19 safety

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

JEFFERSON CITY — Social media influencers might soon be popping up on Missouri residents' Instagram and Twitter accounts with reminders of ways they can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The state is asking some popular Missourians to participate in the program to promote social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks on behalf of Gov. Mike Parson, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported  Monday.

Those who agree to participate will not be paid, said Maggie Kost, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Development.

"The ask is pretty simple; we would like their help encouraging Missourians to take basic precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and get us all back to the things we love," Kost said.

TikTok star Nickolas Ray, a Missouri native with 1.7 million followers, and Jenna Fischer, an actress from Missouri with 3.1 million Instagram followers, have been asked to participate. Other possibilities include former St. Louis Cardinals star Ozzie Smith and Kansas City Royals Manager Mike Matheny, Kost said.

The effort comes as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the state. State health officials reported 171,022 newly confirmed cases, an increase of 1,527 from Sunday. Between Oct. 17-23, the state had 11,095 new cases, an average of 1,585 a day, according to state data. Missouri has recorded 2,810 deaths since the pandemic began, five more than on Sunday.