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San Diego County Supervisors Right to See COVID_19 Misinformation as Public Health Threat

09/01/21

It’s rare that 250 people sign up to speak at a local government meeting, and it’s rare for a local government meeting to last 15 hours. But that’s what happened at a San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting that pit public health against public comment Tuesday. How the meeting ended was rarer still. In fact, it was unprecedented.

No local government in the nation had ever declared medical misinformation a public health crisis until the county supervisors did so on a 3-2 vote, along party lines, after a meeting that featured threats to recall Democratic Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, who drafted the resolution, and also misinformation from speakers exercising their right to address their government officials.

The reality is COVID-19 has killed 640,000 Americans and 4.5 million people worldwide and projections are that it could kill 100,000 more Americans by year’s end. Science shows the vaccine is safe and effective. Science shows that masks work. Weaponized misinformation weakens the likelihood that those who aren’t yet vaccinated will help society reach herd immunity and spawn safer reopenings.

That Supervisors Fletcher, Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas want the county to actively counter misinformation, modernize public health communications, partner with trusted messengers and develop a website to combat misinformation is something to be celebrated. That Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond voted against it should be rued. The county was the first local government to take this act. It shouldn’t be the last. This isn’t an attack on free speech. It’s an attack on a virulent strain of misinformation that is weakening all of America as it tries to free itself from this terrible pandemic.

Read the entire editorial here