The state of Utah is ready to spend millions of dollars to continue informing the public about health safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

© Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

Caption: KUTV: Jim Spiewak reports{{ }}

Utah has put out a call to marketing and communications firms to bid on a contract to keep messaging ads running on billboards, online, TV and the radio.

The request for bids says the annual budget for the winning firm will be between zero and $5 million annually.

Since March, the state has had such a campaign, which includes the state’s coronavirus website, and estimates 97% of Utahns have seen their messaging.

“One of our best assets is a well-informed public,” says Tom Hudachko with the Utah Department of Health.

Hudachko says without a vaccine, communication is one of the most critical tools public health has to fight a virus.

 “Unfortunately, if someone needs to be tested or quarantined or isolated, it’s a little bit too late,” he said. 

Pretty much every state agency has a communications staff, but Hudachko says pulling off a specialized state-wide campaign is a big undertaking.

“It just simply doesn’t make sense to have this level of expertise on your staff on an ongoing basis. You hire it out when you need it,” Hudachko said. 

© Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

The firm Utah hired during the early days of the pandemic is about to expire. Even though emergency purchasing rules were in place at the time, the state solicited bids from a number of companies prior to issuing the contract.

“Now that things have calmed down, we know we’re in it for the long haul, it’s good that government is going through the normal process to make sure we’re getting the best deal possible,” said Chase Thomas, the executive director of the Alliance For a Better Utah.

© Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

Thomas says with information changing so quickly messaging like this is needed.

“If there’s new science, do we need to adjust what we’re doing with masks or how we’re going out in public? So there’s going to be a continuing need,” Thomas said. 

The new contract starts in September and can be renewed each year for the next five years if needed. The state has said they want to keep the campaign going “through the end of the pandemic.”

Here is a copy of the request for proposal the state issued:

READ MORE: Utah spends $108 million on coronavirus crisis, is prepared to spend more

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