Director Says Social Media, Rumors Hinder COVID-19 Education Efforts

By Fred Arnold Telescope Publisher
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Social media can be a good way to get a message out quickly. Unfortunately, it can also be a hindrance to getting the proper message to people.

Republic County Health Department director Danielle Swanson says her office has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts. She said, in an interview with The Belleville Telescope, that people spreading gossip by word of mouth instills an unnecessary level of fear in people.

“Gossip spreads like wildfire,” she said. “One person says this and then 10 people later it is a completely different message.”

And while Swanson conceded you can never stop the rumor mill, she wants people to know that “spreading gossip” makes it more difficult for her agency to do its job. ‘We don’t want people to be afraid, but we do want them to be properly informed and educated,” she said.

With regard to Facebook posts, she encourages people who use that medium to take what they read with a grain of salt.

“Sometimes people see or read old posts that are outdated, so their information is obsolete,” Swanson said. “Obsolete and false information can be detrimental to all of us.”

All Day, Everyday

The health department head said her agency is working 24/7 to get new information and pass it on to Republic County citizens. Swanson said she is in contact with state officials daily, sometimes more than daily.

“This is our constant focus right now,” she said. “All day, everyday. I have daily, weekly and semi-weekly meetings with several other entities in our community with new regulations and mandates coming down.”

Stay Home

Swanson said the best course of action for Republic County residents is to stay home.

“Be smart. Go out only when needed,” she added.

And, good hygiene cannot be emphasized enough. Swanson said that is essential.

“We need to be smart and take care of ourselves,” she said. “We need to take care of ourselves and in turn take care of our community. Anyone can self-monitor for symptoms daily and they could be the key to identifying the virus.”

Swanson said the community needs to be aware and have good, accurate information at their hands. She said, that information comes from the state and her agency along with credible media sources.

“Remember, what you see on social media may be obsolete and gossip is just that.”