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On June 24, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom remarked on a disturbing phenomenon: health officers are “getting attacked, getting death threats, they’re being demeaned and demoralized.”1 At least 27 health officers in 13 states (including Nichole Quick of Orange County in southern California, Ohio Health Director Amy Acton, and West Virginia Health Officer Cathy Slemp) have resigned or been fired since the start of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Across the US, health officers have been subject to doxing (publishing private information to facilitate harassment), angry and armed protesters at their personal residences, vandalism, and harassing telephone calls and social media posts, some threatening bodily harm and necessitating private security details.1
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Corresponding Author: Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Room W1033F, Baltimore, MD 21205 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: August 5, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.14423
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Greene reported receiving grants from the National Library of Medicine, the Arnold Foundation, and Greenwall Foundation outside the submitted work. Dr Sharfstein reported being the former health commissioner of Baltimore, Maryland, and former health secretary of Maryland. No other disclosures were reported.
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