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OUR VIEW: Health board should reconsider

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The Macon County Health Board’s monthly meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 18.

We urge the board to reconsider and reverse its December decision to reduce reporting of COVID-19 numbers to once a week.

In making the decision to reduce the reports, the board cited potential public burnout. Proponents of reducing the reports felt the numbers were falling on deaf ears.

The health department has already shown that it is willing to reduce the frequency of reports when cases were lower, as it did earlier in the pandemic. It later increased the frequency back to daily for a reason, and that judgment should be respected. This is a curious thing to micromanage.

As we said last week, our primary objection is the board making a decision outside its purview. Whether people ignore the numbers or overreact to them is not a public health concern. Whatever “the media” – a straw man easy to attack when reporting isn’t going the way you want -- decides to do with those numbers is not an issue for the board to be concerned with.

Our ultimate end goal is the same as the one expressed by the board members, which is making sure the information reaches the public.

Interestingly, the decision resulted in a grassroots revolt, as social media and other means of general public communication criticized the decision, directly countering concerns of the board members supporting an information blackout.

Who’s weary of COVID? All of us. But as positive tests spike to unprecedented levels, the numbers are a must for a public concerned and making decisions about interaction. Additionally, if and when decisions are made about further shutdowns, travel restrictions and mask mandates on federal and state levels, those outcomes are less of a surprise for an informed public.

Bad news doesn’t vanish just because it’s ignored. Unless the board can come up with reasons to withhold reports – and those reasons will have to be significantly more realistic than those given last month – we hope they reconsider their position.

We appreciate and thank the health department staff and their continued efforts and professionalism. This resolution caused challenges that could and should have been avoided,

As we’ve said previously, it’s not a matter of good or bad publicity. It’s a matter of public health.

COVID testing

A banner advertising free COVID-19 testing is shown on Pershing Road in December. 


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