Martinez – The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously declared COVID-19 misinformation an urgent public health crisis, directing County Health to actively correct vaccine myths and other falsehoods being purveyed in public discourse.
The resolution was sponsored by County Supervisors John Gioia and Karen Mitchoff.
“Vaccine and COVID-19 misinformation is directly responsible for limiting vaccination rates and allowing this pandemic to unnecessarily harm residents, especially those in communities of color” Supervisor Gioia said. “Equity in public health is my highest priority, and misinformation is especially dangerous because it ultimately harms the most vulnerable.”
Supervisor Mitchoff said: “Our intent is to emphasize the importance of where residents get their information.”
The resolution declares: “Health misinformation has significantly undermined public health efforts and the unmitigated proliferation of health misinformation has created a culture of mistrust and has prolonged the COVID-19 pandemic, endangering the health and safety of all Contra Costa County residents…”
The most recent data shows that Contra Costa County has recorded more than 95,000 cases and 921 deaths from COVID-19. The County has been a leader in COVID-19 safety protocols since the start of the pandemic, aggressively passing health orders to limit the spread of the virus and bring free vaccination services directly to communities. More than 87 percent of County residents over 12 years old have received at least one does of a vaccine, and 82 percent – more than 826,000 people, are fully vaccinated.
Tuesday’s resolution concludes: “Contra Costa Health Services will continue to share facts and scientific information about COVID-19, to correct misinformation including vaccine myths, to identify and give a platform to culturally relevant medical experts and trusted messengers, to respond to questions and requests for information on social media, and to work with our media and community partners to reach a broad audience with factual, timely information.”
“We have the facts and the science is clear,” said Gioia. “We must counter vaccine misinformation at every turn in order to save lives and beat this virus.”
Information release by Contra Costa County
Here is the Resolution:
the matter of: Resolution No. 2021/337
Declaring COVID-19 Misinformation as a Public Health Crisis
WHEREAS, Health misinformation has significantly undermined public health efforts and the unmitigated proliferation of health misinformation has created a culture of mistrust and has prolonged the COVID-19 pandemic, endangering the health and safety of all Contra Costa County residents and visitors; and
WHEREAS, The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in over 95,000 cases and 921 deaths in Contra Costa County as of September 25, 2021; and
WHEREAS, The spread of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our health and safety, our regional economy, our elder residents, our communities of color, our mental health, the educational development of our children and every aspect of our lives; and
WHEREAS, In Contra Costa County, there are significantly lower vaccination rates for residents 20-29 years old, residents who identify themselves as White, Latinx, African-American, and more than one race/ethnicity, men, and in certain communities across the county and particularly in East and West County; and
WHEREAS, The COVID-19 vaccines have met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality and have been proven to be safe and effective; and
WHEREAS, The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, brand name Comirnaty, has received full FDA approval and been proven to be highly effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and that its benefits outweigh its risks; and
WHEREAS, The COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone in Contra Costa County at no cost, regardless of income, residency within the county, health coverage or immigration status, and is administered by health professionals, like nurses and doctors; and
WHEREAS, 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; and
WHEREAS, On July 15, 2021, the United States Surgeon General issued his first advisory describing the “urgent threat” posed by the rise of false information of COVID-19 – one that continues to put “lives at risk” and prolong the pandemic; and
WHEREAS, Recent surges in infections and hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Contra Costa have highlighted the importance of clear and unequivocal communications from public officials that vaccines are the best protection against severe illness and hospitalizations; and
WHEREAS, Urgent action is needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 by combating misinformation, thereby supporting our healthcare system and saving lives; and
WHEREAS, There would be substantial detriment on Contra Costa County and its residents and visitors if not acted upon immediately; and
WHEREAS, Trusted community members, such as health professionals, faith leaders, educators, and leaders of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color nationwide and in Contra Costa have spoken directly to their communities to address COVID-19 related questions by town halls, meetings, social media, and traditional media; and
WHEREAS, The Board of Supervisors and the County of Contra Costa is troubled by and actively discourages the spread of COVID-19 misinformation as it is a dangerous threat to public health; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services continues to carry out its mission to care for and protect all Contra Costa County residents from COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services engages with our communities through building partnerships and trust with community organizations and residents, trusted messengers, and COVID-19 Ambassadors; and
WHEREAS, Contra Costa Health Services maintains a coronavirus website as a source of credible, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 for Contra Costa residents at cchealth.org.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Supervisors of Contra Costa County declares that COVID-19 health misinformation is an urgent public health crisis affecting our entire community and the County of Contra Costa commits to combating health misinformation and curbing the spread of falsehoods that threaten the health and safety of our residents; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Board of Supervisors and the County of Contra Costa will 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; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Contra Costa Health Services will continue to share facts and scientific information about COVID-19, to correct misinformation including vaccine myths, to identify and give a platform to culturally relevant medical experts and trusted messengers, to respond to questions and requests for information on social media, and to work with our media and community partners to reach a broad audience with factual, timely information.