A giant mask bearing the "Mask Up JC!" slogan has been placed over the Johnson City sign in downtown Johnson City near King Commons park.
It's the latest signage to go up in a prominent space in Johnson City in recent weeks as cases of the novel coronavirus increase in the region and the county. The banners began going up around the time Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy issued an order requiring face masks.
Brenda Whitson, executive director of the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is behind the signage, said they "wanted to remind our locals and visitors to mask up in an effort to make our community a safer place to live and visit."
"We hope by making large statements, this call to action will stay top of mind," Whitson said in an email. "Since Tennessee reopened, our online messaging has been about traveling safely to Johnson City. We want travelers to know the City is serious about the health and welfare of our citizens and our visitors."
Whitson said most of the signage was donated, including the Holston Distributing billboard space in the heart of downtown Johnson City. The mask on the Johnson City sign, however, did cost about $2,600 after a discount from Stafford Graphics.
"As our COVID cases continue to rise it is important to remind our citizens and visitors that we need to do our part to bring those numbers down," Whitson said. "Wearing a mask is an easy way to protect yourself and others. Equally important is socially distancing and washing your hands.
"We have to keep our economy moving ahead and the way to do that is to #MaskUpJC."
Jonathan Roberts is a journalist and photographer with a love for iced tea and traveling. A graduate of East Tennessee State University, Jonathan has been with the Press since 2019 and is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.