The 21st Show

Public Health Persuasion


Jernej Furman

Amid all of the unknowns around coronavirus, one thing that scientists do know that will slow the spread is a wearing a face mask in public: properly, over your nose and mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called on Americans to wear face masks, and said that if almost everyone wore a cloth face covering, the virus could be contained in a matter of weeks. But according to a CDC survey from May, about a quarter of people said they would not follow recommendations to wear a face mask when outside the home. 

The 21st talks to a CEO, senior behavioral scientist and a psychology professor about how to convince the people in our lives to wear a mask. 


Jason Harris, CEO of Mekanism

Laura Bogart, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation

Brad Sagarin, psychology professor at Northern Illinois University


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

This week we asked our texting group:

 Hypothetically (or maybe not), how would you encourage a loved one to follow public health guidelines like masking? You can also join the conversation on The 21st by texting the word TALK to 217-803-0730. Here’s what we heard from listeners:

Justin from Rockford: I give them data - the latest stats from the IDPH website. It’s very helpful, informative, and apolitical. Facts.

Lorri from Champaign: I’m medically compromised so I’d start there. Statistics would be the second step. Probably most important though would be asking their reasons for not wearing one and trying to understand

Jenn from Rochester: I encourage people to wear a mask because it’s not about them, it’s about who they may come into contact. My 7 year old was born with a heart defect and had a repair at 6 months old. This virus could have devastating effects for him, including death. This virus doesn’t care about individual rights

To join, text “TALK” to 217-803-0730 or sign up with your phone number below: