SUMMIT — A program aimed at boosting public youth awareness and participation in wearing face coverings as the COVID-19 pandemic continues has gotten underway in the city.

Summit Downtown Inc. has provided $5 gift cards for police officers to hand out when they see students wearing masks properly over both their mouths and noses.

Officers will continue until all 100 cards are given out, the city announced Tuesday.

Some of the first youth seen by police eligible for such rewards were three Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle Schoolers, who posed for a photo with officers.

In recent weeks, state health officials have said the state's continuing low level of hospitalizations and deaths stemming from COVID-19 has been due in part to the fact that “we have shifted somewhat to younger age groups."

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the state Department of Health, said in late August that if younger people are getting sick “and they are not getting hospitalized, they are still often infecting others who then may down the road become ill and those bad outcomes may happen.”

Anyone who might want to support the youth-aimed incentive program and local businesses by the purchase of a Summit VISA Gift Card can find more information online.