The CDH cannot republish the content of the social networks of elected officials
Central District Health staff members will no longer be allowed to repost elected social media content on official district channels, board members said on Friday. And if board members wish to withdraw a public health advisory on COVID-19, the HRC will follow their instructions.
CDH board members unanimously approved a new social media policy that states that the public health district will refrain from reposting elected officials’ content. The policy states that the board of health “prefers to avoid any perception of the agency providing support to any elected in their professional capacity by reposting their public health content.”
The new policies were created in response to concerns raised by Idaho House majority caucus chair Megan Blanksma, a Republican from Hammett, and Raul Labrador, a former Republican congressman.
CDH shares Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and Governor Brad Little
Central District Health oversees public health in Ada, Elmore, Valley, and Boise counties. The health district shared Facebook posts and tweets from Idaho elected officials, including Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and Republican Gov. Brad Little. Blanksma in August criticized the HRC’s decision to “approve” a McLean statement involving a mask warrant.
Following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that encouraged the wearing of masks indoors, Boise officials announced on July 27 that they would require face coverings inside city facilities. Central District Health issued a press release about 20 minutes later saying it supports CDC guidelines and recommends wearing masks indoors when there are high levels of community transmission, which is the case in the Boise area.
At the board meeting on Friday, Blanksma also criticized CDH’s decision to share McLean’s Facebook post that discouraged starting fireworks at home.
“While not political, its value to public health was limited,” Blanksma said.
Valley County Commissioner Elt Hasbrouck, a board member, expressed concern over whether employees could be penalized for accidentally violating the policy. He said he didn’t think such a violation should be put on a personal file because it will take time to adjust to the new rule.
CDH spokesperson Alina Gilmore told the Idaho Statesman that the public health district will be looking into the circumstances surrounding a social media breach. If the violation were repeated, CDH would treat it the same way it treats other policy violations.
“It would involve progressive discipline and require further action depending on severity,” Gilmore said in a statement.
COVID-19 policy for the HRC gives council the power to withdraw opinions
Labrador also said in August that he wanted the board to have more say in what the HRC advises the public. Board members approved a new COVID-19 policy on public health notices on Friday.
The policy states that the HRC will share public health notices with board members at the same time they are shared with the public. But if board members wish to modify or withdraw a health notice, the HRC “will take the necessary steps to immediately follow the instructions of the board.”
Public health advisories are issued by staff and approved by the district director, and should be based on science and data, the policy says. The board of directors would only have the power to withdraw COVID-19 notices.
Labrador asked CDH director Russ Duke on Friday about advice he had given to the West Ada school district regarding children wearing masks. Labrador highlighted the public health district’s decision to support indoor masks and said the board should give the CDH approval before recommending guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Duke said he had been asked for advice by the school district and rebuffed claims that wearing the mask is psychologically harmful to children. He argued that children are in a high-risk environment and that transmission of COVID-19 occurs in schools. The CDC, the national public health agency, provides information on the science behind the masking recommendations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Hasbrouck said micromanaging Duke’s stance on what he thinks is good advice “would be a huge mistake” and undermine the powers of the public health agency.
“For me, it’s Russ’s job to offer advice to people who ask for advice,” Hasbrouck said. “If you were to go in there and say, ‘You know what? The CDC (recommends it), but you do what you want, we’re losing our strength as a public health agency.
Labrador told the Idaho Statesman he was happy with the new policies for now and wanted to see how they worked before considering whether he would like to see more of the board controlling messaging.
“My goal is not to micromanage anything,” Labrador said, but added that “certain guidelines,” including support for CDC recommendations, should not be given without board approval. administration.
This story was originally published 15 October 2021 12:56 pm.