Kathleen, Janet and Arne want me to wash my hands regularly because the swine flu season is approaching and effective vaccines won’t be available until mid-October, according to a just-received email. Clean hands are the first line of defense against flu. It’s the patriotic thing to do.
The thoughtful trio behind the message is Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education. They signed off the email using only their first names and want me to “take care.” The White House passed along the note.
Kathleen, Janet and Arne urge “fellow Americans” to go to war against the flu. Wash those hands. Clean out the soap shelves of Wal-Mart, bringing great cheer to Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive. “This is a shared responsibility and now is the time to prepare,” they wrote.
The informal trio presided over the “H1N1 Influenza Preparedness Summit” today. Kathleen kicked off a contest (info at flu.gov), offering a $2,500 grand prize for the best video PSA about combating the swine flu. More soap? The video will be posted on YouTube, giving instant stardom to a budding Hollywood producer. Kathleen has her heart set on a 15-, 30- or 60-second PSA that is “fun, smart and entertaining” and packed with information to “motivate people to take steps that will help prevent the spread of H1N1 flu.”
Some guidelines: no product pitches are allowed and forget about producing a video that is “inappropriate, indecent, obscene, hateful, defamatory, slanderous or libelous.” HHS frowns on material that promotes “bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on age, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.”
So go for it. Deadline for materials is Aug. 17. Questions go to email@example.com. Good luck. Your country depends on you.