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Following San Diego County’s Lead, Sacramento County and Monterey County Join Fight Against Health Misinformation

09/14/21

 

On the heels of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declaring health misinformation a public health crisis and committing to combat it, the Sacramento and Monterey County Boards of Supervisors voted to join the fight against health misinformation.

 

Supervisor Luis Alejo led the measure for Monterey County and Supervisor Phil Serna led the measure for Sacramento County, following the lead of San Diego County Chair Nathan Fletcher and joining a growing list of elected leaders who have taken similar action, including Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber of the California State Assembly.

“Health misinformation is the biggest reason why our ICUs are still filling up with COVID patients across the state and across the nation,” said Chair Fletcher. “I want to congratulate the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors for joining us in confronting health misinformation. Countering health misinformation is an essential extension of our COVID response efforts, and it will literally save lives, build healthier communities, help our kids stay safe in schools, keep our businesses open, and reduce the unnecessary strain on our health care system.”

Earlier this month, 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 health 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. 

 

Declaring Health Misinformation a Public Health Crisis aligns with Chair Nathan Fletcher’s Framework for the Future of San Diego County. The Framework prioritizes communities and populations in San Diego that have been historically left behind. Through this Framework, Chair Fletcher is fighting for racial justice, health equity, economic opportunity, environmental protection, government transparency, and fundamental changes to county operations..