A California county’s Democrat-controlled board of supervisors voted 3-2 at midnight Tuesday to declare misinformation a public well being disaster and probably silence residents who oppose coronavirus lockdowns in addition to masks and vaccine mandates.
The party-line vote got here after 14 hours of public remark in San Diego County, with tons of of residents talking out in opposition to the measure.
“Misinformation I agree is harmful, nevertheless, it’s arduous for me to imagine that we or anybody we all know is aware of all the pieces about drugs,” Jim Desmond, a Republican board member who voted in opposition to the measure, advised Fox Information. “At present’s details could also be tomorrow’s misinformation.”
He mentioned it’s each an infringement of freedom of speech and a hindrance to medical science.
“Now we have sacrificed numerous freedoms over the past 16 months,” he mentioned. “However I can’t sacrifice freedom of speech and thought.”
Democratic board Chair Nathan Fletcher, who launched the measure, didn’t share these considerations in a tweet celebrating the passage.
“San Diego County grew to become the primary jurisdiction in America to formally declare ‘Well being Mis-information a Public Well being Disaster,’” he wrote. “It’s time to belief science, docs and public well being specialists.”
Nonetheless, the measure confronted widespread criticism from space residents, and the board’s public testimony session ran for 14 hours.
Greater than 400 audio system voiced their opposition to declaring misinformation a public well being disaster, in keeping with Desmond’s workplace.
Proponents of the designation argued it will assist combat vaccine hesitancy because the COVID-19 delta variant continues to unfold. However critics frightened it had larger implications.
A letter from board Chair Nathan Fletcher recommends tasking the county’s chief administrative officer with devoting sources to “label well being misinformation” after which counter it; to spend tax income on a strategy to “modernize public well being communications;” and to arrange a brand new web site particularly designed for “combating well being misinformation,” amongst different issues.
A abstract of the proposal claims that “well being misinformation now presents a larger menace to public well being than a variant of COVID-19.”
“In response, the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego acknowledges the vaccine hesitancy, that stands in the best way of the County shifting past the COVID-19 pandemic, is being fueled by the unfold of well being misinformation and commits to growing methods to actively fight well being misinformation,” it continues.
Fletcher’s letter additionally really helpful making an internet site to “fight” on-line posts that counter the county’s official positions on the coronavirus, spending taxpayers’ cash to “establish and label well being misinformation” and build up the county’s public well being communications equipment to convey authorized messaging, amongst different measures.