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“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

― John Lydgate

Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) has come under attack in the last few days on social media, over the Business and Quarantine Noncompliance Reporting tool that it posted on the county’s COVID-19 page. CCPH says that it took that step, in part, in an effort to conserve the amount of staff time it has had to devote to fielding a multitude of concerns and complaints, in the middle of this public health crisis.

Personal Protective Equipment Drive with Emergency Manager Richard Atkins, Director of Public Health Andrea Carlstrom and Special Projects Coordinator Mike Orrill.

“In this stressful time people are apt to use strong language on social media. The reporting tool was public health’s attempt to direct people’s angrily-worded complaints away from one another, into a more objective system for sorting and follow-up,” said the Chair of Chaffee Commissioners Greg Felt. “The same vitriol that we saw aimed at public health over this situation is what public health was trying to address in terms of how we are treating one another.”

In response to the backlash received regarding the streamlining of concerns and complaints that her team has been fielding around the clock on social media, this message was posted last night [to social media], by Chaffee Director of Public Health Andrea Carlstrom:

“Good Evening.  CCPH has heard loud and clear from those on social media that the Business and Quarantine Noncompliance Reporting Tool that was recently launched has not been well received.  As CCPH said at today’s live check-in, “For those of you who have been calling, e-mailing, or posting concerns and complaints about people and businesses not following the order, we are launching a reporting form that will go live by the end of the day.  Please refrain from using social media to report, as we really want to maintain our bandwidth by providing you with accurate and timely information on the COVID-19 page.  We are doing this to protect all of you from COVID-19.”

“Many counties are using this tool to curb shaming and blaming on social media, to streamline the reporting of instances in which people are not following the order, and to have a central database for appropriate follow-up.  We have pulled the reporting tool from Facebook and will be doing so in the near future from our website and other channels until further notice.  COVID-19 has challenged all of us.

We are all feeling uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, and even anger.  Your friends at CCPH are doing everything they can to ensure the safety and health of our community.  Please remember- we are your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and partners in this unparalleled chapter of history. We will only get through this successfully together, as a team  … we will be removing it from our daily situational report and other channels for now.”

The criticism received by CCPH is likely triggered by genuine stress and overload felt by most county residents. Yet, given the high risks most still face, it would appear to be out-of-balance with the sincere efforts by CCPH to keep residents safe. “People should remember that there are many exceptions and valid reasons in place why someone might appear to be violating an order, when they are not,” said Commissioner Felt.

“For example, there are short term rentals that have been authorized to house critical workers including medical personnel,” added Felt. “An out-of-state license plate does not automatically make someone guilty of violating our public health orders.”

While it has long been noted that people say things on social media that they may never be brave enough to say in person, some might say that the pushback on the Department of Public Health during a pandemic represents the darker side of humanity in the midst of a crisis, rather than humanity’s best side.

Felt’s message “This is a time to pull together, to redirect our anxiety and stress in positive ways.”