Fighting misinformation

Since the pandemic began, no area of government has had to fight harder to communicate than public health departments. Government Technology evaluates how San Diego County has fared since declaring COVID-19 misinformation a “public health crisis.”

In short, chasing bad information with facts can be very difficult. “Misinformation just travels so quickly — and way faster than the pace of scientific discovery, which, to be frank, is slow and kind of happens in fits and starts,” said an infectious disease specialist who is helping with the county’s efforts.

Nevertheless, the county’s approach (which includes identifying and recruiting trusted community voices, responding quickly with facts, and repeating messages in different channels) offers useful strategies that aren’t necessarily limited to the health field. School officials, for example, have been fighting the same battles, and those fights are only getting hotter.

Have you had your own encounters with misinformation? What did you or your organization do to fight it? Please share in the replies below.

Above: A few months after the pandemic’s onset, a CDC doctor interviewed a family in Atlanta, for a study about people who had formed antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. They were asked about their medical history, any recent symptoms, places they had traveled, and how they felt about the prospect of isolating, or quarantining. (Centers for Disease Control photo)

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