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Friday, May 27, 2022

U.S. health officials need federal protection against abuse and threats, the national team says.

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

On Monday, the National Association of County and City Officials asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to expand recent federal efforts to protect school board members, teachers, and other school officials to include local health officials.

The letter cites a report from The New York Times that surveyed hundreds of health departments, including some in every state, and found that the United States may be less well prepared for the next pandemic than it is for the current one.

Threats, intimidation and harassment have become commonplace among local health officials, The Times found out. Many officials said they had installed security cameras, started carrying pepper spray, or patrolling their homes with police.

Public gatherings have become battlefields. More than 100 hours of video from local gatherings viewed by The Times showed that officials who made decisions about the pandemic’s restrictions were often the target of fierce public criticism.

The Times has identified more than 500 senior health officials who have left 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 health workers and reported in July that about 23 percent of respondents said they felt bullying, threats, or harassment because of their work, and that about 12 percent said they received work-related threats.

Earlier this month, Mr. Garland instructed the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office to meet with federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local law enforcement officials to discuss strategies to counter the alarming trend of threats and abuse against public school officials.

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

A letter from a national group representing city and county health authorities said threats and acts of violence against health officials have serious consequences for their families.

“Some had to switch to driving unmarked cars or installing home security cameras,” the letter said. “Others had to rely on police escorts and 24/7 security, while others changed the behavior of their children, fearing that they would be targeted instead.”

The letter said the angry man nearly knocked down the Michigan health director.

“We don’t want to wait for a full-blown tragedy,” said Adrian Casalotti, head of the public and government affairs team.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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