Community members are joining a new project in Rutland, Vermont, aimed at making sure critical safety messages are reaching as many people as possible during the COVID-19 crisis.
"Our motivation is to, hopefully, save a few lives," said Mike Napolitano of Awesome Graphics in Rutland.
Napolitano has been printing signs providing messages about staying healthy and observing social distancing practices and started distributing them free to community members Monday.
One sign urges people to imagine a cow and to keep that length in mind for how far apart they should stay from people in places like grocery stores.
"It's been gangbusters," Napolitano said of the interest in the signs, which are being given away free at Awesome Graphics on Route 4, also known as Woodstock Avenue, in Rutland.
"I think it's wonderful," said Bill Petrics, who came with his wife, Cathy, to pick out a sign to put on their lawn.
The signs were stored in a brand-new and squeaky-clean dumpster provided by Casella, to keep them from blowing away.
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Some have messages like "cherish family time" or "all in we win," and others promote practices like staying home or hand-washing.
Napolitano said 1,000 of the signs, and likely more, are going out to neighborhoods and businesses to hammer home Vermont's "stay home, stay safe" order intended to minimize the spread of disease.
"We want this to be over with, so we can all go back to seeing our families again," said Kathy Senecal, who works in-home health care and chose a sign reading "protect our elderly." "I have elderly parents, too. They're 85 and 83. I want them to stay protected."
"We can't get the message out enough," observed Mayor Dave Allaire of Rutland.
Allaire told NECN and NBC10 Boston the vast majority of people in his area are taking social distancing and hand hygiene extremely seriously. He added that the sign effort, which area sponsors are paying for, could give a gentle nudge to the sliver of the population that isn't quite on board.
"Hopefully, we'll get out of this on the other side sooner rather than later," Allaire said.
Judging from the chatter among people picking up signs Monday, the slogan about keeping one cow's length between people seemed to be the most popular.
"Those little reminders, I really believe, can go a long way every day," Napolitano said.
Picking up a sign is free but Awesome Graphics said if you'd like to contribute something, it's encouraging folks to donate to the local food pantry, the Rutland Community Cupboard.