PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Governor Greg Abbott ordered Texans to wear facial coverings in most public spaces when social distancing cannot be maintained, there was one man way ahead of him.
Tom McGovern is a musical comedian, based in Brooklyn ordinarily, but recently moved to Florida, where he has been enduring the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic with his girlfriend. McGovern uses comedy and music to both entertain and educate viewers, most recently with a song on the benefits of wearing facial coverings.
The song, Put on Your Mask, was released on Spotify and Apple Music on July 1 and illustrates both how simple and effective wearing a facial covering or mask can be throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
McGovern said he is influenced by the likes of The Lonely Island, Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords who have all used comedy and music to explain large-scale social problems.
“Yeah, I try to in one way or another use comedy to spread some sort of real message,” McGovern said. “I find that if you wrap something in a comedic skin, people are more likely to listen to a message or more willing to share something.”
McGovern’s recent move to Florida may have also given him new creative inspiration. Shortly following the move, residents of Palm Beach County took to the Commissioner’s Court meeting where they spoke out against a proposed mask ordinance.
After nearly three hours of public comment, Palm Beach County commissioners voted unanimously June 23 in favor of requiring face masks to be worn inside public buildings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
McGovern said he directly targeted the people who spoke out against the mask ordinance.
“That’s exactly what I’m targeting, McGovern said. “Ironically, that town hall or committee meeting happened in the county that I am quarantining in. I’m exactly targeting that population. It is scientifically proven that wearing a mask can help prevent or at least slow down the spread of the pandemic. To see people coming out and saying that we are taking away God’s breathing system or that it’s a crime against humanity, it’s not about that, it’s about trying to protect the greater good.”
McGovern said while usually, as a musical comedian, his intentions behind his work are to make light of a situation, given the recent climate around the country, he was set on making art that took up meaningful space.
“I’ve recently been trying to, especially because of the current climate both around the country and on social media, I think it’s in poor taste to take up space with content that isn’t necessarily serving the greater good, whether that’s through the Black Lives Matter movement or the coronavirus pandemic, this song came from that place,” McGovern said.
According to Jeremy Howard and several other researchers from the University of California San Francisco, who recommended that public officials and governments strongly encourage the use of widespread face masks in public, facial coverings work.
McGovern said it’s a simple message: it is scientifically proven that masks help prevent the spread or at least slow the spread of infection. According to McGovern, this is not a partisan message meant to take away from American rights, it’s a public health matter.
“As a comedic songwriter, I wanted to write something that could take up some space and might actually be useful, McGovern said. “Obviously, numbers in the U.S. are outrageously higher than anywhere else in the world. And it’s largely because there is a certain portion of the population that refuses to acknowledge that the pandemic is an actual thing that could be prevented by taking some pretty simple measures on paper. So, the song is a silly way to promote that message.”
As of July 7, Texas has reported 210,585 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak. An estimated 99,385 of those are active cases, according to Texas’ Department of State Health and Human Services. on Tuesday Bexar County officials reported 778 new COVID-19 cases and five new deaths related to the virus.
You can visit McGovern’s website here, where he performs a number of songs and plays a number of characters. McGovern’s EP ‘I Made it’ it available on Apple Music and Spotify. You can follow McGovern on most social media platforms @tommcgovern27.