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Central District Health revises social media policy, will not repost elected officials

At the regularly scheduled CDH board meeting, the board voted to change its social media policy to remain politically neutral.

BOISE, Idaho — During the regularly scheduled Central District Health board meeting on Friday morning, board members voted to implement a social media policy that restricts CDH social media accounts from reposting content from elected officials' accounts.

The policy was supported by board members in its original draft, but small wording tweaks were suggested and implemented. 

"Central District Health's (CDH) Board of Health prefers to avoid perception of the agency providing support for any elected official in their professional capacity by reposting their public health content." The approved social media policy reads. "As such, CDH will refrain from reposting content from an elected official's social media."

The CDH board also revised its COVID-19 advisory policy. That policy originally read, "It is the policy of Central District Health's board of health that public health advisories issued by the agency should be based on scientific data."

That COVID-19 advisory policy now reads:

  • District Director: When the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues guidance intended to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in our communities, CDH's subject matter experts will review the science and data upon which the guidance was based and make a determination as to whether or to adopt the guidance as a public health advisory.
    If in the professional opinion of the subject matter experts, the CDC guidelines and the local circumstances warrant issuing a public health advisory, CDH will issue the advisory to the affected area of the health district. Advisories will be shared with the Board of Health at the same time as they are issued to the community.
  • Board of Health: The Board of Health will have the opportunity to call a special meeting per the board bylaws to discuss the advisory and determine if they will leave the advisory in place as written, modify the advisory, or retract it.
  • District Director: If the Board of Health determines that they want to modify or retract the advisory, the agency will take the necessary steps to immediately follow the direction of the board.

Physician Board Member Dr. Ryan Cole and Board Member Raul Labrador both voiced concern with the original policy, sparking this change.

Board Director Russ Duke recently spoke at a West Ada School District board meeting on behalf of CDH advising the school district to follow CDC guidelines. 

"The CDC's recommendation is K-12 masks based on the delta variant. I do expect that will change for future variants depending on again how transmissible and how severe they are. But for right now that would be my recommendation to you," Duke said.

Raul Labrador challenged this CDC guidance, citing he doesn't agree wants a say in how the CDH advises local agencies.

"If you want to repost what the CDC did that's one thing. But when you go beyond that and actually advocate a position from the CDC, I think that needs to be voted on by the board," Labrador said.

"They're asking me for my opinion," Duke said. "West Ada invited me, I didn't invite myself. They asked for my opinion, they asked for my recommendation. And I think it's our responsibility to provide it."

Dr. Cole agreed with Labrador and wanted a say in what data CDH uses to make recommendations for the public. 

"I don't want to micromanage Russ," Dr. Cole said. "I appreciate what he does. I just want to make sure what we at least have the opportunity to discuss is based on which data the decision is made."

Per the updated policy, the board can call an emergency meeting in accordance with CDH bylaws and revise or retract advisories made on behalf of CHD.

Dr. Cole notably abstained from voting when the updated policy was approved. Raul Labrador voted to approve the policy.

At KTVB, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.ktvb.com/coronavirus.

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