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COVID misinformation

COVID misinformation

(Letter to federal and provincial health authorities)
I remain puzzled and irritated that federal and provincial health authorities didn’t see the “anti” movements rising last spring via social media and take action in the form of PR campaigning and clear education to address and stem this. Today, viral misinformation remains in active circulation, and it continues to undermine Canadian public health measures.
A few days ago, I was in a local café, and three (mask-less) adults at the next table were giddy in their enthusiasm for conspiracy theories advocating anti-this and anti-that. One of them – an older man – told me his source of information originates in Russia, and he is convinced the pandemic is a hoax. None of these people (like most in the “anti” movements, I’ve learned) have spent a day of their lives working as a practising health professional or research specialist in infectious diseases. But that hasn’t stopped them from spreading contrived and vile theories now as abundant as autumn mushrooms.
Our bureaucracies responded strongly to COVID-19 in several ways, but they’ve dropped the ball on this. It’s past time for health authorities to address this through sustained PR campaigns – like those urging people to wear seat belts or stop drinking and driving. Such campaigning needs to be much more sophisticated than TV-ready politicos saying, “C’mon everyone, stop this foolishness!” With months to come of COVID-19 circulating in our communities, it’s critical to do what we can to minimize viral spread, and tackling viral misinformation through well-thought and intelligent campaigning will help. Recruit some celebrities to help out and get a real marketing firm to manage it is my suggestion. It’s evident that holiday messaging is already in full-crank mode. This is a heck of a lot more important.
Michael Maser, Gibsons

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