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Threatened, harassed, doxxed: Public health workers forge on — Security teams protecting health officers

14 Oct 2021 3:00 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

In July, local health official Faisal Khan attended a county council meeting to do his job — talk about COVID-19 data and offer guidance on the best ways to save lives and contain the spread of the virus. He left the meeting needing security detail for his entire family.  [The Nation's Health October 2021, 51 (8) 1-13]

“I was prepared for a discussion, even skepticism,” said Khan, MPH, MBBS, director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health in Missouri. “But in 25 years of public health service, I have never faced this sort of situation.”

That night at the council meeting, Khan explained why he and fellow county officials had decided to reinstate a mask requirement against a backdrop of surging infections, lagging vaccination rates and rising hospitalizations. Khan’s talk was met with jeers, taunts and verbal abuse. One council member pointed out that Khan was not born in the U.S.

As Khan left the meeting, an angry crowd hurled racial slurs and physically assaulted him, Khan later wrote in a letter to the council chair. The situation “saddens me beyond comprehension,” he told The Nation’s Health.

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