Panel of Utah experts tackle COVID-19’s disinformation crisis – Community News
Covid-19

Panel of Utah experts tackle COVID-19’s disinformation crisis

SALT LAKE CITY — Misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine is not only overwhelming, for some it can even be paralyzing.

A panel from the University of Utah tried to clear up some misconceptions about COVID-19. A medical director, a biochemist and a psychiatrist all agree that misinformation about COVID-19 is widespread and dangerous.

“I think the first step is to recognize that there is misinformation. It can be very difficult to figure out what is true and what is not, and who can you trust?” said Dr. Julie Kiefer, biochemist, Assoc. Direct. Or Science Communications for You or You.

The experts agree that social media has exacerbated the spread of misinformation. They encourage people to think critically.

Read – Utah reports 1,789 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths

“Where are you reading this? Do you think it is legit, can you compare it to something you trust?” said Dr. Kencee Graves, Associate Chief Medical Officer of the University of Utah Hospital.

“Just because someone wears a white coat or has a degree to their name doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a COVID or vaccine expert,” said Dr. kiefer.

When it comes to the amount of misinformation, Dr. Graves that she is sad but not surprised.

“It’s important to remember that even before COVID as a society, we were stressed, isolated and polarized,” said Dr. Graves.

This has not only increased our division. It has also led some to question what to do for their own health.

“Having just that little bit of doubt can be enough to dissuade you from taking the action to, for example, get a vaccine that has real consequences,” said Dr. kiefer.

According to a recent poll, nearly 8 in 10 adults say they’ve heard at least one of many misinformation and either believe it to be true or aren’t sure if it’s true or false.

“There are people that we’ve cared for and taken care of for years that trust us, and we start talking about COVID-19 vaccines, and very quickly they get concerned and they don’t trust us that much anymore, so I think it affected the doctor-patient relationship quite a bit,” said Dr. Graves.

Read – Gov. Cox authorizes COVID-19 booster shots for all Utahns over 18

dr. Kiefer says this piece of information is still missing from some communications today.

“This is our understanding at this point based on the information we’ve been able to gather so far, but things could change as we learn more…part of what we have to get used to is that there’s a gray area, there’s nuance,” said Dr. Kiefer.

That’s why these experts hope people ask questions and do research before sharing.

“I think we as humans can be really bad at weighing risks and benefits when there’s emotion involved. If you hear something scary, it’s going to get stuck in your head,” said Dr. kiefer.

“If we’re afraid of the vaccine, it’s a good thing, our intuition comes out when it’s actually fear. This is an uncertain time and that’s normal and okay, and it’s really great to reach out to a trusted healthcare professional to ask,” said Kristin Francis, a psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Inst.

dr. Kiefer says the CDC website, the Mayo Clinic, or even your own doctor are good sources to do your research.

The US Surgeon General has also released a community toolkit for tackling misinformation that is easy to digest.