In an effort to prevent some of the fictional events of the movie “Contagion” from happening, health officials and AHCJ leaders collaborated to establish guidelines on what information should be released in a public health crisis.
Actually, the group began work on the project last year – long before “Contagion” hit the theaters – but the recent movie demonstrates the dangers of misinformation during a crisis, as described in a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed.
” … one character observes that the falsehoods of a self-serving blogger are as dangerous as the virus itself. Public-health officials strive to release the right information at the right time, but they struggle to counter the irresponsible blogger.”
Felice J. Freyer, an AHCJ board member, teamed up with Paul E. Jarris, M.D., executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, and Robert M. Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, to write an op-ed about the guidelines and why they were necessary.