Public health officials in the United States need federal protection against abuse and threats, according to a national group.

The Justice Department must help protect public health officials across the country who have been threatened with violence and harassmen...


The Justice Department must help protect public health officials across the country who have been threatened with violence and harassment during the pandemic, a group representing nearly 3,000 local health departments said.

National Association of County and City Health Officials wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday, asking that a recent federal effort to protect school board members, teachers and other school employees be expanded to also include local health officials.

The quoted letter a New York Times report examining hundreds of health departments, including some in every state, and finding that the United States may be less prepared for the next pandemic than it was for the current one.

Threats, intimidation and harassment have become common experiences for local health officials, according to the Times. Many officials said they had installed security cameras, started carrying pepper spray or were getting police patrols in their homes.

Public meetings have become battlegrounds. More than 100 hours of video of local meetings, viewed by The Times, showed that officials who make decisions about pandemic restrictions are often the target of vitriol from members of the public.

The Times has identified more than 500 senior health officials who quit their jobs in the past 19 months, in part due to abuse and threats.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interviewed more than 26,000 state, tribal, local and territorial public health workers and reported in July that about 23 percent of respondents said they felt intimidated, threatened or harassed because of their work, and that about 12 percent said they had received threats related to their work.

Mr. Garland directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. prosecutors’ offices earlier this month to meet with federal, state, tribal, territorial and local law enforcement officials and discuss strategies to deal with a disturbing trend of threats and threats. abuse of public school officials.

The Justice Department also said it would create specialist training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators to help them understand how to report threats and preserve evidence of threatening behavior.

The letter from the national group representing city and county health officials said threats and acts of violence against public health officials had profound effects on their families.

“Some have had to switch to driving unmarked cars or adding home security cameras,” the letter said. “Others had to rely on police escorts and 24-hour security, while others changed their children’s behavior, fearing they would not be targeted instead. “

The letter said that a Michigan health director was nearly kicked off the road by an angry individual.

“We don’t want to have to wait for a real tragedy,” said Adriane Casalotti, head of public and government affairs for the group.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Public health officials in the United States need federal protection against abuse and threats, according to a national group.
Public health officials in the United States need federal protection against abuse and threats, according to a national group.
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