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Preventing Miscommunication and Misinformation in Public Health 

Real or False?

Before COVID-19 made headlines, public health was a forgotten resource in the background of communities. Residents knew there was a health department in their town but never understood how this organization helped their community. This rapidly changed about 4 years ago when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Almost overnight, public health was thrust into the spotlight as a saving grace; a vital resource to help countless people around the country and world. During a time when public health could show to the world how effective and beneficial it is, it became tarnished as false information circulated rampant and unchecked. The public’s trust in the larger healthcare system was shaken as people were bombarded with information they couldn’t tell was true or not. 

Combating Misinformation

In the thick of the pandemic, the healthcare system faced extraordinary challenges as it navigated rapidly evolving scientific developments. At times it felt like we were flying the plane as we were building it. As a result, individuals with the

expertise and understanding to counteract misinformation were not as effective in doing so.

Recognizing the detrimental impact misinformation has caused around the country, the Southeast Utah Health Department is taking proactive steps to enhance communication and provide accurate information to our residents. 

How We Are Going To Do Better

The Southeast Utah Health Department feels that the best way to fight misinformation and prevent miscommunication is to provide our residents with the data. We are in the finishing stages of placing “dashboards”, a type of screen, on our website that highlights numerous different categories and up-to-date data associated with those groups. For example: If you are curious about health issues in adults, one of the dashboards will display real data from local residents about high blood pressure and COPD. Our goal with this is to provide our residents with information about their area. We believe that if the public has access to accurate facts then they can make informed decisions to better their lives. Providing easy access to clear and concise data will reduce potential confusion when false information starts to circulate. 

As the Southeast Utah Health Department works to spread accurate data out into our jurisdiction, we are also dedicated to being a sounding board for questions and concerns. We welcome resident’s questions about vaccines, children’s development, local resources, harm reduction, family preparedness, restaurant safety, and 1,000s others. Whether you find information online or hear it on the news, it can be confusing but the health department staff are available to help. We want you to have a better understanding of your body and your health to make the best decisions for yourself. 

The Southeast Utah Health Department’s mission is: “to assist the residents of our communities to achieve and maintain optimal health and wellness.” By prioritizing transparency, accessibility and engagement, we are working to prevent miscommunication and combat misinformation. Together, we can build a healthier, more informed community. 


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