San Diego County Board of Supervisors to discuss declaring COVID-19 misinformation a public health crisis

Posted at 12:12 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 20:21:30-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Dozens of people gathered in front of San Diego County’s Administration Building on Tuesday in opposition of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s proposal to declare COVID-19 misinformation a public health crisis.

Fletcher’s proposal will seek to find out where people find misinformation on the coronavirus and vaccines, and how the misinformation spreads.

Under Fletcher’s proposed plan, more resources would be added to help identify health misinformation. Fletcher would like to form a team who would work to share timely health information to counter the misinformation.

RELATED: San Diego County Supervisor Fletcher: 'There's a pandemic of misinformation'

Fletcher would also like to invest in training and provide digital resources for health workers by exploring education programs that help communities distinguish what’s evidence-based information from opinions and personal stories.

In a statement, Fletcher said, "Health misinformation about COVID-19 is causing people to die and contributing significantly to our struggles with the delta variant. The reality that disinformation is leading people to use a medicine for horses, instead of the safe and FDA-approved vaccine, is unbelievable. I feel bad for those who fall victim to misinformation. It's ridiculous the amount of misinformation that is out there, and I want San Diego County to help stop it from spreading."

Fletcher said he “fully support(s) the First Amendment, and people's right to say and believe what they want, but we also have the right and responsibility to call out things that are objectively false. The pervasiveness of health misinformation was on full display at our Board of Supervisors meeting a couple of weeks ago, and we have an obligation to make sure we are defending the science and pushing back on the non-science."

One person who signed up to speak at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting explained why she doesn’t support Fletcher’s plan: “We are insulted by the proposal. We can think for ourselves. We can do our own research and investigation. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your constituency.”

Many public health experts view health misinformation as a major contributor to rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and vaccine hesitancy. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently issued an advisory titled "Confronting Health Misinformation" to push back on bad science and lies.