SLO County Public Health is considering loosening social-distancing restrictions and is savvy enough to include provisions to evaluate its ability to "convey physical-distancing recommendations that change behavior in most residents" in determining whether to loosen or tighten restrictions.
SLO County will find it difficult to change behavior unless it eliminates, or at least mitigates, the negative impacts of misinformation.
One misinformation source (Fox News) has consistently provided misleading and dangerous information to its followers. In the interest of public health, mitigating the negative effects of this (and other) sources of misinformation must be considered when developing a strategy to survive this pandemic.
SLO Public Health should take the following actions regarding sources of misinformation:
• Restrict access.
• Place warning labels or other notices.
• Collect data to track the correlation between misinformation consumption and unsafe behaviors.
Consider this: Is Fox News misinformation one reason why Paso Robles, with a population only three times larger than Morro Bay, has an infection rate that is 10 times higher?