County supes may declare COVID-19 misinformation a public heath crisis

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Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors (Photo credit: CCC)

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is set to consider a resolution Tuesday that would declare COVID-19 health misinformation an urgent public health crisis and would commit the County to take steps to combat it, saying falsehoods have threatened public health efforts and prolonged the pandemic.

The proposed resolution introduced by Supervisors John Gioia and Karen Mitchoff points to comparatively low vaccination rates in Contra Costa County, particularly in certain groups such as men in their 20s.

“Misinformation has caused confusion and has led to eligible people declining COVID-19 vaccines, rejecting public health measures such as face coverings and physical distancing, and using unproven treatments,” the resolution states.

The resolution would call for the Board of Supervisors and the County to “develop and support policies and strategies that protect the health and safety of Contra Costa County residents through the promotion of evidence-based interventions, including face coverings and vaccination.”

The County already partners with community-based organizations and leaders on outreach efforts, and Contra Costa Health Services has been providing updated pandemic-related information online that both serves to inform the public and counter false information, officials say. The resolution commits the County to continue to find ways to amplify public health information in the public.

As of Sept. 25, 921 people in Contra Costa County have died from complications due to COVID-19. Over 95,000 cases have been recorded.

On July 15 this year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued his first advisory describing the “urgent threat” posed by the rise of false information of COVID-19.