Utahns impacted by COVID share stories in a new public campaign

Utahns impacted by COVID share stories in a new public campaign

Shelly Wenzbauer gets emotional while speaking about Salt Lake County’s new campaign to help encourage COVID-19 vaccination during a press conference at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. The campaign shares the stories of people from all walks of life, including Wenzbauer, who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19. Wenzbauer’s husband, Steve, is immunocompromised with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He is recovering from a bone marrow transplant and currently has no white blood cells. As a schoolteacher, Wenzbauer needs to be in the classroom with students each day. She would love to encourage them to get the vaccine, wear masks, “and to help keep our community safe,” she said, noting that it’s not just her husband who faces serious risk from the coronavirus pandemic. Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Wenzbauer’s husband is in the hospital now, receiving a bone marrow transplant. While “things are looking really good,” the teacher begged for the community’s help to save him. “We both had the vaccine, and in my husband’s particular type of leukemia, it is the very white blood cells that would make the vaccine effective. And so it really didn’t work for him — it was completely ineffective,” Wenzbauer explained, speaking to reporters at the Salt Lake County Government Center on Tuesday, as leaders announced the launch of a new campaign aimed at encouraging more residents to get vaccinated.

“Because right now, he has zero white blood cells,” she said. “His official count right now is zero, and that means he just can’t fight this off, and there really is no medicine or artificial help he can receive to overcome this loss he has in his own immune system. And wearing masks and getting vaccinated as a community is the only thing that really is going to keep him safe.” Her voice broke Tuesday as she described the struggles her family has faced since then.

Dunn said leaders want unvaccinated Utahns to learn from these first-hand experiences “before it’s too late.” “I’m brokenhearted that we continue to have the health risk in our community and the challenges that our community is facing now,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said. The campaign, she said, shares first-person perspectives “from Utahns just like us,” whose lives have been impacted by COVID-19.

“The politics associated with this pandemic have obscured the scientific facts and the human impact that COVID has had on our families, our friends and our communities,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, executive director at the Salt Lake County Health Department. Wenzbauer is one of several Utahns who share their stories in Salt Lake County’s new “The Truth About COVID” campaign. The ads that will run on TV, billboards, the local transit system, Connected TV, digital banners and social media feature a variety of local people who have been affected in some way by the pandemic, including health care workers, people experiencing “long COVID,” teachers and members of at-risk communities.

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  • Utahns impacted by COVID share stories in a new public campaign
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