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NEVADA’S CLARK COUNTY IS JOINING THE FIGHT AGAINST MEDICAL MISINFORMATION

09/09/21

Nevada is now joining the fight against medical misinformation. Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones has announced he’s bringing forward a policy to declare medical misinformation a public health crisis; following the lead of San Diego County and joining a growing list of elected leaders who have taken similar action, including Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber of the California State Assembly and Supervisor Luis Alejo from Monterey County. 

In a tweet sent Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Jones said: Misinformation about COVID-19 has created a public health crisis. I applaud @SanDiegoCounty Chair @SupFletcher for leading on this issue and will ask my @ClarkCountyNV Commission colleagues to likewise take action to stamp out health misinformation.”    

Las Vegas is in Clark County, which is the largest county by population in the state of Nevada, with more than two million residents.  

"I am pleased our effort to combat misinformation is reaching people outside of San Diego County and the state of California,” said Chair Fletcher. “Health misinformation about COVID-19 is a national issue. City council, county commission, and even school board meetings across our country are being overrun with misinformation about COVID-19, which is slowing our recovery, creating vaccine hesitancy, and causing the unvaccinated to end up in the hospital.

“I am thrilled Commissioner Jones is joining the fight against health misinformation. We are ready to work with leaders from throughout the U.S. to make combating health misinformation a priority in order to maximize booster shot vaccinations later this year,” Chair Fletcher concluded.     

Last week the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy applauded San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher for his “bold action” to draft and pass policy declaring medical misinformation a public health crisis. Chair Fletcher’s policy makes San Diego County the first in the nation to take on medical misinformation, a recognized contributor to vaccine hesitancy, the rising cases, and hospitalizations.

Surgeon General Murthy’s endorsement came by quote tweeting Chair Fletcher’s announcement that the medical misinformation policy passed. The Surgeon General said, “I’m grateful @SupFletcher took on this issue -- it’s the kind of bold action we need to ensure we all have accurate, science-based information to inform our health.” 

The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory entitled “Confronting Health Misinformation. ”

Chair Fletcher believes tackling health misinformation needs to start on the ground, in counties and cities across our nation. He introduced the policy at a time when 83.7% of the County’s COVID-19 cases are amongst not fully vaccinated people and 96.7% of the County’s hospitalizations are amongst not fully vaccinated people, since March of 2021. Leading experts in the field of public health agree health misinformation is a major contributor to rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and vaccine hesitancy. 

Chair Fletcher’s first in the nation policy passed by a vote of 3-2. It came after many hours of public testimony from mostly right-wing, anti-vaxxers. The vote:

Chair Fletcher’s policy will implement the following strategies cited by the U.S. Surgeon General's advisory:

  • Devote resources to identify and label health misinformation and disseminate timely health information to counter misinformation that is impeding our ability to keep our community safe,
  • Modernize public health communications with investments to better understand gaps in health information, and questions and concerns of the community, especially in hard-to-reach communities. Develop targeted community engagement strategies, including partnerships with trusted messengers,
  • Expand our research efforts to better define and understand the sources of health misinformation, document and trace its costs and negative impacts, and develop strategies to address and counter it across mediums and diverse communities,
  • Invest in resilience against health misinformation including digital resources and training for health practitioners and health workers. Explore educational programs to help our communities distinguish evidence-based information from opinion and personal stories,
  • Partner with federal, state, territorial, tribal, private, nonprofit, research, and other local entities to identify best practices to stop the spread of health misinformation and develop and implement coordinated recommendations,
  • Identify resource gaps to combating health misinformation and working with state and federal partners to meet ongoing needs, and 
  • Work with the medical community and local partners to develop a website that will serve as a central resource for combating health misinformation in our community.