San Diego’s Democrat-controlled county board of supervisors will consider an agenda item Wednesday that would declare “health misinformation a public health crisis” and enact measures to try to “combat” posts that counter the county’s official positions on the coronavirus.
A summary of the proposal claims that “health misinformation now presents a greater threat to public health than a variant of COVID-19.”
“In response, the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego recognizes the vaccine hesitancy, that stands in the way of the County moving beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, is being fueled by the spread of health misinformation and commits to developing strategies to actively combat health misinformation.”
Residents say they’re concerned that giving the country the right to determine what counts as “information” and “misinformation” could infringe on their rights to free speech.
Jim Desmond, a member of the board’s conservative minority, warned that the move amounts to “an overreach into our rights and liberties.”
“We have seen Big Tech’s failures when it comes to censorship, and now government is telling people what they can and can’t think,” he told Fox News Saturday. “People should have the freedom to question government, do our own research and make their own opinions.”
Critics worry the county’s move, if passed, could curtail free speech and silence people who oppose continued coronavirus lockdowns, mask mandates and other government orders.
A letter from board Chair Nathan Fletcher recommends tasking the county’s chief administrative officer with devoting resources to “label health misinformation” and then counter it; to spend tax revenue on a way to “modernize public health communications;” and to set up a new website specifically designed for “combating health misinformation,” among other things.
The letter also states that vaccine hesitancy has a greater impact on minority communities.
The measure is expected to pass when it comes up for a vote Wednesday.
Fletcher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It follows another move by the county’s largest school district to require children to wear masks outdoors and while waiting at their bus stops, despite reports that transmission is lower outdoors and children face less of a risk.
Democrats in other areas of the country have also been declaring hot-button, nonmedical issues “public health crises” for months.
And Eric Adams, the former NYPD captain and frontrunner in New York City’s mayoral race, said in a July interview that “we have to treat gun violence as a public health emergency” as shootings have skyrocketed in the Big Apple under current Mayor Bill de Blasio.
And back in April, President Biden himself pushed for new gun control measures, arguing that gun violence is also a public health crisis.