Threats, vandalism, job loss: Colorado’s public health officials are under attack as they respond to coronavirus
Across the state, public health departments are facing a barrage of vitriol as they respond to the pandemic. Some officials have up and quit under the pressure, while others who stay say they fear for their safety
Joni Reynolds, the head of Gunnison County’s public health department, entered kind of a routine as the coronavirus crisis descended on Colorado earlier this year: Long hours. Sleepless nights. A police escort home.
A wave of threats over her efforts to keep her community safe amid the pandemic made her fear for her safety. There were also suspicious packages left outside her house and sent to her office, both of which were unsettling but weren’t dangerous.
“References to Nazism. Calling me Mrs. Hitler,” Reynolds said, recounting the contents of the hate mail she received. “Calling me vile names — curse words. Threatening harm to me, my family, my home. Assuring they would remove me from my job and take ‘all my worldly possessions.’”
Public health officials in every corner of Colorado have become the target of threats, vandalism and even attack ads in newspapers and on the radio as a result of their handling of the pandemic.
They are unelected government workers who typically do important, but seldom acknowledged, work preventing disease outbreaks and inspecting restaurants. But during the coronavirus crisis, the harsh spotlight of a politicized pandemic has shined upon them.
Read more at ColoradoSun.com.
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