Rep. Cox introduces bills to educate, combat misinformation about COVID-19

Rep. TJ Cox
Rep. TJ Cox

Central Valley Rep. TJ Cox this week introduced two bills, both of which call on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund public and private awareness campaigns to spread factual information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

One bill led with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) would help communities raise public awareness about health resources at local community health centers. Since the beginning of this crisis, multiple sources have tried to take advantage of the confusion caused by the pandemic to spread misinformation, some of which have been harmful to public health and minority communities.  

Cox’s second bill, H.R. 6577, introduced with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27) also combats the crisis of anti-Asian American discrimination enflamed by this pandemic. Efforts to rename the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” as well as campaigns to misinform the public about possible cures to COVID must be stopped so we can address this emergency and stand up to senseless anti-Asian discrimination in this country.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, getting accurate, timely information to the public isn’t just helpful, it’s a matter of life and death. Our institutions have struggled to meet this challenge, so it’s vital that we boost our awareness and education efforts, especially before we—when it is safe to do so—reopen our country,” said Cox. “That way we can combat misinformation and stereotypes that endanger lives and slow down this nation’s recovery.”

“Misinformation about COVID-19 has spread faster than the disease itself, and it is hampering our response and putting Asian American communities in danger,” said Chu. “That is why, when the outbreak first began, I urged every member of the House and Senate to stick to only verifiable information and to avoid stoking xenophobia. However, attempts by Republicans to deflect blame and anger away from the Trump administration and towards China by using terms like ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Wuhan virus’ have contributed to a spike in anti-Asian hate incidents. That is why health experts from the CDC and elsewhere warn against labeling a virus by a specific region or ethnicity.

“And that is why I am so grateful to Rep. Cox for introducing this important bill to address stigma and promote only scientifically verified information about COVID-19. We must listen to the health experts and not let xenophobia distract us from the need to contain this virus.”

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