Public health groups worry threats to local officials could escalate as US plans vaccine rollout for kids

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Health, Public Health Groups Worry Threats To Local Officials Could Escalate As Us Plans Vaccine Rollout Fo

10/28/2021 4:00:00 PM

Public health groups worry threats to local officials could escalate as US plans vaccine rollout for kids

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Some reports detail protests swarming outside of a public health officer's home. Others describe the hostile voicemail messages or emails sent to health officers.McAdam, an expert on extremism and white nationalism at the Montana Human Rights Network, has been monitoring threats of violence targeted toward public health officers in Montana, and sometimes northern Idaho.Throughout the pandemic, such threats have become a nationwide issue in the United States.'use strict';CNN.Videx=CNN.Videx || {};CNN.Videx.mobile={};CNN.INJECTOR.executeFeature('video').then(function () {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleUnmutePlayer=function handleUnmutePlayer(containerId, dataObj) {'use strict';var playerInstance,playerPropertyObj,rememberTime,unmuteCTA,unmuteIdSelector='unmute_' + containerId,isPlayerMute;dataObj=dataObj || {};if (CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(containerId)==='fave') {playerInstance=FAVE.player.getInstance(containerId) || null;} else {playerInstance=containerId && window.cnnVideoManager.getPlayerByContainer(containerId).videoInstance.cvp || null;}isPlayerMute=(typeof dataObj.muted==='boolean') ? dataObj.muted : false;if (CNN.VideoPlayer.playerProperties && CNN.VideoPlayer.playerProperties[containerId]) {playerPropertyObj=CNN.VideoPlayer.playerProperties[containerId];}if (playerPropertyObj.mute && playerPropertyObj.contentPlayed) {if (isPlayerMute===false) {unmuteCTA=jQuery(document.getElementById(unmuteIdSelector));playerInstance.unmute();if (unmuteCTA.length > 0) {unmuteCTA.removeClass('video__unmute--active').addClass('video__unmute--inactive');unmuteCTA.off('click');rememberTime=0;if (rememberTime 0) {$vidEndSlate.find('.l-container').html('');$vidEndSlate.removeClass('video__end-slate--inactive').addClass('video__end-slate--active');}};CNN.autoPlayVideoExist=(CNN.autoPlayVideoExist===true) ? true : false;var configObj={thumb: 'none',video: 'politics/2020/06/23/los-angeles-county-barbara-ferrer-threats-coronavirus-sot-vpx.cnn',width: '100%',height: '100%',section: 'international',profile: 'expansion',network: 'cnn',markupId: 'body-text_7',theoplayer: {allowNativeFullscreen: true},adsection: 'const-article-inpage',frameWidth: '100%',frameHeight: '100%',posterImageOverride: {"mini":{"width":220,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-small-169.jpg","height":124},"xsmall":{"width":307,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-medium-plus-169.jpg","height":173},"small":{"width":460,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-large-169.jpg","height":259},"medium":{"width":780,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-exlarge-169.jpg","height":438},"large":{"width":1100,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-super-169.jpg","height":619},"full16x9":{"width":1600,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-full-169.jpg","height":900},"mini1x1":{"width":120,"type":"jpg","uri":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622230234-barbara-ferrer-small-11.jpg","height":120}}},autoStartVideo=false,isVideoReplayClicked=false,callbackObj,containerEl,currentVideoCollection=[],currentVideoCollectionId='',isLivePlayer=false,mediaMetadataCallbacks,mobilePinnedView=null,moveToNextTimeout,mutePlayerEnabled=false,nextVideoId='',nextVideoUrl='',turnOnFlashMessaging=false,videoPinner,videoEndSlateImpl;if (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist===false) {autoStartVideo=false;autoStartVideo=typeof CNN.isLoggedInVideoCheck==='function' ? 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LA County official details threats received amid Covid-19 01:41Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has spoken openly about receiving death threats. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County's public health director, also has opened up about receiving hate mail and threats dating back to March last year. In Washington state, Okanogan County community health director Lauri Jones has said that she installed a new security system and asked for police patrols around her home following repeated online threats.Read MoreResearchers have also found that some of the threats targeting public health officers come from people with known ties to far-right extremist groups. Now, there's renewed worry that such harassment may increase nationwide with upcoming efforts to vaccinate young children against Covid-19."There's the potential that that could end up being one of these flash points where threats and harassment spike again," McAdam told CNN."Every time during the pandemic when there's a new development, it brings the potential for that harassment to increase."'I can only imagine this will increase'The US Food and Drug Administration is now considering authorizing the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. With sign off by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shots could be administered by next week. What will a Covid-19 vaccine for younger kids mean? An expert weighs inPending that authorization, public health officers plan to help get shots into those young arms -- but their efforts could come with more threats and harassment from the small minority of Americans who are anti-vaccine or Covid-19 skeptics."Unfortunately, I anticipate that this will be the case," Brooke Torton, a senior staff attorney at the Network for Public Health Law, wrote in an email to CNN."I can only imagine this will increase once younger children begin getting vaccinated."Public health officials continue to face threats for simply administering the vaccine due to widespread misinformation, Torton noted, and the idea of vaccine requirements has the potential to cause outrage among some parents.The pandemic has pushed more than 250 public health officials out the doorCertain managers of vaccination programs already have experienced intimidating posts online during the pandemic, Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, told CNN.The association even discussed plans with some of its members to organize giving awards to doctors and community leaders for being"champions" of vaccines -- but some members voiced concern that such an award might invite threats and harassment against those being honored, Hannan said."Those who are speaking out against vaccines and doing that type of harassment are still in the very small minority, and I think it will stay that way," she said."But anytime there's a new initiative, or in this case, a new vaccine coming for kids, then it's something that we'd have to consider that there's going to be that backlash from the anti-vaccine side."'The very professionals that are trying to protect us, are unfairly being targeted'Even though public health officers have feared for their safety throughout the pandemic, harassment seems to ramp up whenever new Covid-19 mitigation efforts or policies are introduced, Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, told CNN.As debate around school mask mandates heats up, local health officials fear for their safety"At this point, things are so divisive politically that I think any new initiative associated with this disease -- any new effort to mitigate, whether it's vaccine or further masking in schools, et cetera -- is going to be hyper politicized," Freeman said."It just seems like the environment that we're in right now is ripe for people to really express their politics through ignoring health advice, which is just unfortunate," Freeman added."The very professionals that are trying to protect us, are unfairly being targeted, and that is a threat really to all of us."Last week, NACCHO sent a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting"you include the protection of public health department officials and staff in your directive to federal authorities to meet with local, state, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement to address the increased risk in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school-related personnel," says the letter, signed by Freeman.Freeman has not received a response yet from Garland's office -- but she said that she wrote the letter because,"we don't want to wait until a tragedy occurs to raise this to the highest levels that we can."Local health officials were doing their job. In the pandemic, that came with death threats and harassment The letter noted that some health officials have had to start driving unmarked cars or installing at-home security cameras, others have had to rely on police escorts and round-the-clock security, while others worried their children would be targeted."These threats have taken a toll: at least 300 public health department leaders have left their posts since the pandemic began, impacting 20% of Americans. In many cases, they have been verbally abused and physically threatened," according to the letter."Of note, many of these threats have included misogynistic and racist undertones, further violating these officials."Torton, the senior public health attorney, wrote in her email to CNN that the discussions she has had with public health officials nationwide"certainly reveal a pattern of abuse aimed at public health officials who are also women, and racial, sexual, and gender minorities," and"it seems they have been more likely to be targeted." Torton was not involved in NACCHO's letter to the Attorney General.The growing danger of vocal extremistsThere is emerging evidence that members of extremist groups could be behind some of the harassment aimed at public health officers, according to the civil rights nonprofit group Southern Poverty Law Center."In tracking political violence in recent months and the anti-government militia movement for decades, we find this trend of increased threats and intimidation directed at local public health officials, as well as other local officials, very concerning," Rachel Carroll Rivas, senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote in an email to CNN. "Our research indicated that some of the threats have come from individuals with known affiliation with far-right organizations that have been advocating and participating in violence."McAdam in Montana told CNN that he has seen similar trends in his own research.In Montana specifically, McAdam also has noticed that members of anti-government militia groups have started to partner with the people protesting and harassing public health officers. 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Whitmer: Stay-at-home protests look like political rally 03:24"Remember the anti-lockdown rallies that were happening in state capitols or outside county courthouses or other public buildings? It wasn't necessarily that the anti-government crowds and the militia crowds were the ones organizing all of those -- but they were showing up in those spaces," McAdam said. "For them, they were prime recruiting grounds, because you have generally conservative-leaning people who are really angry at the government right now," he said."They started to tap into some of that anger."Carroll Rivas noted in her email that attacks and harassment against local public health officers provide extremist organizations with an opportunity to"channel their anti-government talking points" into the mainstream. "Covid-19 conspiracies and disinformation organizing includes a mix of extreme far-right actors and organizations, as well as mainstream politicians and everyday folks. The recruitment pool is unfortunately big," she wrote."Focusing attacks at the local level is a bread-and-butter tactic of the anti-government militia movement and far-right."Push to support public healthPassing and enforcing effective laws with stringent penalties for people who threaten and harass public health officials, launching public health educational campaigns and investing more in public health all could help curb the frequent harassment, Torton, the senior public health attorney, wrote in her email to CNN"Public health needs its image bolstered," Torton said."It's been damaged and politicized during this pandemic."Get CNN Health's weekly newsletter Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team. headtopics.com

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Here's what a $1 million home looks like in three different cities - CNN Video

From a studio in New York's West Village to a 5,100 square foot house in Minneapolis' Art District, $1 million gets you very different homes in these three cities. Read more >>

Taiwan president confirms U.S. troops training soldiers on island - CNNA small number of U.S. forces are in Taiwan to train with Taiwanese soldiers, President Tsai Ing-wen said in an interview with CNN, confirming the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island that China considers its own. 如果这都不能成为开战的理由的话,还有什么可以?往习近平家里扔手榴弹吗? just like training Afghanistan army This was the condition of US soldiers in Afghanistan...

Rent the Runway Jumps in Public Market DebutThe clothing-rental company had 112,000 active subscribers at the end of September, compared with 134,000 at the end of 2019. Innovative idea. Rent, Wear, Return, Repeat. Nice!

What John Eastman says in public vs. privateVideo activist Lauren Wilson goes undercover and puts Trump operatives on the record. She discusses what John Eastman says in public and what he says when he thinks he’s in private. Well yeah, they all think they are made men. Above the Law. In fact, what law? What do these geniuses think is going to happen when there is no rule of law. No true votes. They will be in charge and make the rules for the rest of us? AKA the majority of us? Oh yeah, great plan. Fascists like to discuss fascism, saying the quiet part out loud.

Kendall Jenner Kisses Her Boyfriend Devin Booker In Public For the First TimeKendall Jenner Kisses Her Boyfriend Devin Booker In Public For The First Time No way thats cray

Kendall Jenner Kisses Her Boyfriend Devin Booker In Public For the First TimeShe's never been this public with a relationship. WTFC?

How To Get Student Loan Forgiveness If You Don’t Work In Public ServiceStudent loan forgiveness is still possible. Trump Jr. hints at $DWAC & Rumble Partnership Pay them off in full?