Protesters descend on WA Board of Health after misinformation about vaccine plans goes viral

The Seattle Times

Late last week, disturbing rumors started to fly on social media.

The state Board of Health, they claimed, was about to authorize local health officials and police to round up people for refusing to get coronavirus vaccines and forcibly lock them up in quarantine facilities.

It wasn’t true. There was no such plan.

But the falsehood spread with omicron-like rapidity, fueled by misinformation from anti-vaccine activists, some conservative radio hosts and at least three Republican congressional candidates.

By the time the health board convened on Wednesday, the usually obscure panel had been deluged with more than 30,000 emails, hundreds of calls and requests from some 8,000 people to testify at its virtual public meeting. Some of the messages included threats to board members and staff.

In addition to the phone calls and messages, a couple hundred protesters showed up Wednesday morning outside the Department of Health offices in Tumwater, just south of the state Capitol in Olympia.

They raged at the nonexistent quarantine plot, as well as a real — but very early stage — study on whether to mandate coronavirus vaccines for children to attend K-12 schools. Some demonstrators waved signs comparing vaccine mandates to laws passed in Nazi Germany, and accusing Gov. Jay Inslee of tyranny and treason. Signs claimed state officials were setting up internment camps, with one referring to Joint Base Lewis-McChord as “America’s Auschwitz.”

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Thursday, January 13, 2022 - 11:43am

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