TEMPLE, TX — The COVID Pandemic doesn't have many heroes, but lucky for us, one of them lives right here in Central Texas.
People around the world know Little Joe and LaFamilia for their groundbreaking Tejano music, but nowadays almost as may know the group as ambassadors of good health, as they urge fans and others to get a COVID vaccine.
Little Joe takes to the stage in perhaps his most important performance... before an empty San Antonio concert hall.
What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong with anything these days? COVID still has us partially at bay worrying about the next outbreak of the next variant.
Joe's performance in this TV spot came, in part, because he and La Familia did such a good job of keeping fans and others concerned about Little Joe's Illness, updated.
"That was that was a close call for my niece, my daughter, my wife and myself," explained the reputed King of Tejano music.
COVID made them all very sick, but since they got medical treatment fairly early they all recovered.
You can see the events play out through social media posts on the "Little Joe Y la familia" Facebook page.
"I made a video alerting people letting them know that I was, you know, that I tested positive. That it's a dangerous virus and very contagious. Because of my experience with my family, you know, they did (get tested). They still need to try and avoid it (the virus). They need to get vaccinated." said Little Joe.
La Familia had Bandleader Thomas Cruz take the lead in posting written updates on Little Joe.
Cruz told fans they could only get official information through the "La Familia" Facebook page.
Status updates followed until Little Joe was well enough to make the video, that starts his vaccine crusade.
"Be proactive, and be honest and transparent" said Public Relations executive Liz Anderson who has helped a lot of brands with her own "Pandemic PR" model... which puts truth at the forefront.
”You have to think like your customer because they want to be safe and this is all so new I've said this before this is all so new to everybody and you cannot over-communicate what you're doing in your business to customers," said Anderson.
And she says truth can help polish a brand... like "Little joe and La Familia". Getting in front of the COVID issue and keeping fans current, buys a lot of credibility on the streets.
That Credibility added to Little Joe international reputation as a warm, caring man. It all helped lead him to this empty stage in an empty auditorium, to help San Antonio and it's people remember the important things that will help everyone survive the pandemic.
" I wish people would really consider the consequences of not getting vaccinated."
Again, not just saving "La Familia" fans... but "La Familia del Mundo"... the family of the world.
How has COVID affected your life? The answers may be as different as we are, but one thing most can agree on is, COVID has changed our lives.
Audiences know Little Joe of "Little Joe Y La Familia" as a man who stands on principle, but always entertains, whether he's singing or just talking.
"Well, I have a tendency to talk quite a bit because I think I have a lot to say, but I'd like humor and as long as the people are laughing You know I tell jokes." he said.
But he calls the COVID infection that made him, his wife, daughter and niece, sick... NO joke.
He urges vaccinations for all because he says COVD has changed our lives, and not always for the better.
"One of the things I hate still the most when I do go to the store, my wife shopping and I see the children and I like to smile and children is following a smile. Wave. They wave back at me another innocent and wearing a mask." said Little Joe.
He says more nuanced communication like facial expression gets lost.
It all comes as the world struggles with COVID, especially so-called long haulers who have symptoms that linger or appear after the initial infection.
"The most common symptoms of COVID long haulers face are respiratory symptoms, fatigue, sleeping difficulties anxiety and depression and neurological symptoms like headaches, numbness, tingling and Brain Fog" said Dr. Christy Reisinger of Austin.
We showed you, last week, Little Joe's shortness of breath that's caused him to review his songbook.
While Joe may not be considered a COVID long hauler, doctors call his symptom, also common after cases of pneumonia.
A study in "The Lancet" proved that Little Joe isn't alone.
"This study, found that 75% of the patiants hospitalized with COVID nhad at least one onegoing symptom 6 months after their illness. Most commonly fatigtigue or muscle weakness that occured in 63% of cases." said Dr. Christy.
As for the commumnication problems, Joe notes, children can often see behind face masks.
"They look my way in and they smile and wave back. It's like amazing, but that's one of the things that you know, we have to do were the best." he said.
He says that childlike persistance gave him a blueprint for his own efforts to stay connected with his fans him keep his own career on track
"But thank God I'm doing what I love doing and managed to find a way to keep it rolling"
And it keeps on rolling because of little Joe's belief that keeping people connected helps us all and he calls music one of the best ways to do the job.
You can keep up on the latest developments in the fight against COVID on Dr. Christy's YouTube Channel
Little Joe and La Familia provide updated concert information and souvenir items via the Little Joe Y La Familia website