Medical fact-checkers to address COVID misinformation during public county meetings

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO – Since San Diego County became the first in the nation to declare misinformation a public health crisis, the Board of Supervisors have not let up on its aim to make sure the public hears accurate information about coronavirus.  

Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher announced Monday the county would employ a group of medical fact-checkers to counter the sometimes-rowdy public comment at the monthly COVID-19 update meetings. 

“Nothing that we are doing is going to infringe on anyone’s first amendment right to speak,” said Fletcher, who continues to fight those who insist on spreading misinformation about the pandemic, coronavirus vaccines and treatments. “We have an obligation as a public health agency to equip the public and what the medical doctors are saying is the most accurate and the latest and most relevant information, and this is another step in our effort to do that.”

Following 17 hours of debate in late August, the board voted three to two supporting a measure that declares coronavirus misinformation a public health crisis. Fletcher said a group of medical professionals from across the region will evaluate often lively and passionate public comment – but that is often untrue. 

“When we have these meetings, you hear all kinds of misinformation, from people who did their own research about what medication they think you should take to the utility or value of masks,” Fletcher said. “Certainly volumes of things that are just objectively false about vaccines.”  

The group of doctors will report their observations and findings to the board the following day and that information will be placed on the county’s new misinformation website.  While it is largely ceremonial, Fletcher said if they change one person’s mind, he’s happy.

“We are going to be in this fight as long as it takes and we’re not going to back down, in spite of the bullying and the threats and the intimidation,” he said. “We are going to continue to do everything we can to protect public health, and this is just one more tool.”  

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