Appealing to shared values can help encourage communities to wear masks

June 25, 2020

Governor Inslee has issued an order requiring everyone in Washington to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor spaces where social distancing (6 feet between you and others) is not possible. The order will go into effect tomorrow – Friday, June 26.

Like many of you, WSHA has been encouraging our community members to wear masks long before this order. Although it is now mandatory to wear a mask, it is still important to continue this message. We know it can be frustrating to see individuals disregarding masks and other social distancing guidelines, especially when we know how high the risk is. However, there are ways to communicate the “please wear a mask” that increase the likelihood of a positive response. Here are a few:

  • Focus on shared values, rather than disagreements. Why is it important to you or your facility that community members wear masks? Whether it is to protect immuno-compromised patients, control the spread, or because you or a loved one has been directly impacted by COVID-19, the underlying values behind this ask are sentiments many can relate to – family, community, compassion, respect and more. Building your message from a shared value increases the chance that it will resonate with your audience.
  • It’s not about the individual – it’s about the community. Reframe wearing a mask to be about protecting the whole community, instead of on behalf of the individual. This can push individuals to consider how their decision impacts those they might not have thought about, such as people with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask.

King County Public Health has also a variety of resources that you can share with your community to keep them informed on which type of mask to wear and how to do so safely:

If you’ve had success with a particular message or found a useful resource, please share it! You can tag WSHA on social media @WAhospitals or email me directly at


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