Dr. Richard Pan Introduces SB 483 to Protect Health Officers from Personal Threats and Attacks

July 1, 2020

Sacramento, CA – While an increasing number of public health officials receive threats to their safety and that of their family, and as eight public health officials in California have resigned or retired since mid-April, Dr. Richard Pan, pediatrician and State Senator, introduced SB 483 to keep the personal information of health officers confidential. 

“We cannot allow this attack on public health to succeed,” said Dr. Richard Pan, State Senator. “Public safety demands that public health officials must make recommendations based on science and free from intimidation.”

Public health officers are trained medical professionals with the expertise to protect the public from preventable injury and death. During outbreaks, they have the authority to act to halt an outbreak from spreading. During the COVID-19 emergency, extremists who oppose almost every measure to halt the coronavirus pandemic, including stay-at-home orders, wearing masks, contact tracing, and vaccination have sought to intimidate health officials to change the orders.

At an Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting, a fringe extremist with ties to anti-vaccine groups threatened the health officer of Orange County and announced her home address, inciting protesters to visit her house. She resigned after that incident and extremists announced online they would be targeting other health officers. They protested at the home of the Contra Costa County Public Health Officer and other health officials throughout the state have been receiving threats, including the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health who released a statement about threats she has received during the COVID-19 health emergency. 

Under current law, the home addresses of members of the legislature, city councils, board of supervisors and other officials are prohibited from appearing in Department of Motor Vehicle records that can be accessed by the public. SB 483 would extend that prohibition to the disclosure of the home addresses of public health officers.

SB 483 is sponsored by the California Medical Association. “We cannot continue to subject public health officers to the unfair, uninformed, personal attacks we have seen across the state in recent months. The nearly 50,000 members of the California Medical Association want to thank Dr. Pan for stepping up to protect the people who are working to protect public health. This bill is an important step to support our local health officials, who are providing the courage and leadership California needs to continue to navigate our current health crisis,” said California Medical Association President Peter N. Bretan, M.D.

“These trained medical professionals work day in and day out to stop the spread of disease in their communities. It is impossible to say how many lives have been saved over the years because of public health actions such as sanitation, food safety, vaccination, and quarantine. The health officers protect Californians; it’s time for California to take action to protect the health officers,” said Kat DeBurgh, MPH, Executive Director of the Health Officers Association of California.

“Public health officials shouldn’t have to choose between their own safety and livelihood and the public’s health. SB 483 will protect our health officers so they can focus on their job and protect the public,” added Dr. Pan.

 

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