"Shake Free Swine Free" campaign underway in Newport

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

In Newport, Greyhound spirit isn't the only thing decorating the windows and walls of local businesses.  At Merchants and Planters Bank, Sheridan Cole is posting signs promoting the "Shake Free Swine Free" campaign.  The idea is to create awareness about shaking hands--or in this case not shaking hands, in order to help stop the spread of germs.

"During this flu season, it's okay to say hi, nice to see you, and that shaking hands is not a necessity and not shaking hands is not a sign of unfriendliness," said Cole.

The program is a joint effort between the city and Newport's Harris Hospital.  They're hoping this catchy campaign will keep H1N1 and other illnesses to a minimum.

"If it keeps one case of swine flu from occuring then it's been worth it all," said Newport Mayor, David Stewart.

Stewart admits shaking hands is a hard habit to break, but he says a healthy community is worth the effort.

"It starts a conversation about the issue," said Stewart.

"We have a really close community, and once we start a campaign like this, everyone just sort of jumps on the bandwagon," said Sherry Bradley of Harris Hospital.

Newport city leaders are by no means discouraging business or community meetings or events.  They're hopeful this campaign will actually help keep those activities full of Newport residents.

"We have a lot going on, so anything we can do to help stop the spread of this we as a city, as a community, want to do this," said Cole.

Sheridan Cole says she doesn't think not extending a handshake will hurt businesses.  In fact, she says it may even be a plus in the eyes of customers.

"By not taking the step to shake their hand, we're taking that extra step to keep them healthy," said Cole.

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