Want to know who is behind New Albany's recent coordinated messages to residents about the COVID-19 coronavirus?

The New Albany-Plain Local School District has been working with New Albany, Plain Township and local health-care professionals to help community members understand issues surrounding the pandemic.

Superintendent Michael Sawyers said he wanted to create the New Albany COVID-19 Joint Task Force so district and local government leaders could be unified in their communications, services and protocols regarding the virus.

"The reality is this health crisis doesn't only apply at school – it applies in our community," he said.

Sawyers said the 25-member task force has been active behind the scenes to help create communications about the pandemic. Members are creating a video series about several topics related to coronavirus in 3- to 5-minute clips.

Two videos already have been shared, Sawyers said.

The videos are shared via the district and city's social-media and email accounts, said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway.

Topics include physical distancing, facts versus fear, family safeguards, symptoms, outdoor activities, what to do when one is sick, children as asymptomatic carriers and how to flatten the infection curve.

Videos will be shared about every two days, Gallaway said.

Sawyers said including local health-care professionals in the task force was vital to help ensure the communication was credible and scientifically informed.

"I need people that have credibility in the field that can help educate our population," he said.

Sawyers said he reached out to members of the district in such fields as epidemiology, infectious disease, emergency-room medicine, pediatrics and respiratory care.

"I went looking for these people," he said.

Sawyers also looked for these health-care professionals via local organizations, such as the New Albany Chamber of Commerce and the New Albany Community Foundation, he said.

"They were eager to support it," he said.

One task force member, Dr. Steve Canowitz, said the task force was a good idea to bring together people from all parts of the community and with a variety of experiences and insights to help minimize the impact of the coronavirus on residents.

Canowitz is a physician for Canyon Medical Center, which is part of Central Ohio Primary Care.

A New Albany resident for nearly 12 years, he has three children in the school district: New Albany High School sophomore Abe, 16; New Albany Middle School eighth-grader Meryn, 14; and New Albany Intermediate School sixth-grader Jillian, 12.

He said participating in the task force was important to him because his experience working in health care enables him to provide a point of view that could help the community get through the pandemic.

Canowitz said no one will be unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak.

"We have to work 100% together to get past this and get back to enjoying being with our family and friends and getting back to some normalcy," he said.

Sawyers said medical professionals were needed in the task force to help dispel misinformation about the pandemic and educate people about proper safeguards.

"Who better to do that than local health-care providers that live in our community?" he said.

For information about the task force's communications, go to napls.us/Page/4774.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah