‘The Death Threats Started Last Month’: Public Health Officials Targeted By Some Frustrated Americans
The public health experts who have in many places become the face of the state or local response to the pandemic are becoming targets of public frustration to the point of receiving death threats. “They’re becoming villainized for their guidance. In normal times, they’re very trusted members of their community,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, the chief executive of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Some public health officials are resigning amid threats during the Covid-19 pandemic
During a live public briefing on Facebook last month, “someone very casually suggested” the Los Angeles County’s public health director should be shot, the director said.
“I didn’t immediately see the message, but my husband did, my children did, and so did my colleagues,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Monday in a statement.
Another coronavirus danger: Harassment of public health leaders poses new threat
Amid a global pandemic and a long overdue recognition of racism’s harmful effects on health, public health officials have a new reason for concern: their own safety.
In recent weeks, threats have led to protective details for the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Georgia’s commissioner of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Kathleen Toomey. Personal attacks, including aggressive protests in front of their homes, have driven Dr. Nichole Quick from her position as health officer of Orange County, California, and pushed Dr. Amy Acton to step down as Ohio’s health director.
Kaiser Health News and The Associated Press found that as harassment has become more common, 27 state and local health officials in 13 states have “resigned, retired or been fired” since April.