More people supported harassing health officials as the pandemic wore on, research shows

Published: Saturday, July 30, 2022 - 8:21am
Updated: Saturday, July 30, 2022 - 8:22am
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Attacks on public health officials reached new highs during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped drive a mass exodus across state and local health departments.

Research in the journal JAMA Network Open shows that, as the pandemic wore on, even former allies began to support harassment and threats.

The intimidation of public health officials due to business closures was initially attributed to President Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric and disregard for public health experts.

But a representative survey of 1,000-plus U.S. adults suggests the trend worsened, even eight months into the Biden administration and amid positive pandemic trends.

Harassment support rose from 20% to 25%, and belief that threats were justified swelled from 15% to 21%.

Rates stayed highest among people who distrusted science, but negative attitudes also grew among political independents and people with more money, education and trust in science.

Coronavirus Science