AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The latest information out of UMass Amherst is seven more off-campus students have tested positive, bringing the total number to 124. With nearly 200 students facing sanctions for not following coronavirus guidelines, the Amherst Police Department is counting on a new effort to keep everyone safe.

The COVID-19 Ambassador program is up and running in Amherst. It's a way to use a friendly face to deliver critical information to the community.

“In Amherst, there’s a mask mandate zone and so, we have our ambassadors that walk around that zone and they offer masks to people if they notice they do not have one," said COVID-19 Ambassador Coordinator Katherine Newman.

Newman told Western Mass News many of the ambassadors are UMass Amherst students, who are educating fellow college students in many cases.

“We essentially go and delivery some welcome kits that have masks and some helpful information around COVID safety tips for folks in the area," Newman explained.

The COVID-19 ambassadors' hangout in downtown Amherst for about two hours, and walk around handing out masks. They are educating the public on the importance of wearing one.

“Their main focus is in and around our downtown area. That is where the most density exists," said Amherst Police Officer Bill Laramee.

But some of the outreach focuses on areas where noise complaints are made.

“Whether it party behavior or complaints from the community around specific areas where people are not masked," Laramee added.

Newman told us the effort has been working well so far.

"Generally, the response, so if I offered you for an example, a mask and you said you didn’t want one," she said. "I would be like okay great, have a good day, and we just, sort of, wishing them on their way.”

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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