Disinformation dampens enthusiasm for Covid vaccinations In Butte County, misinformation appears to affect case rates

This graph from Butte County Public Health’s Covid page shows the comparatively low vaccination rate as cases surged nationwide in recent months.

by Natalie Hanson
posted July 7

As California assesses the lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, public health experts say they are concerned about managing future health emergencies after battling a disinformation crisis.

For the last two years, county public health departments have been tasked to respond to a pandemic unlike anything seen in decades. As guidance from the California Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for managing local crises shifted weekly, local departments like Butte County’s faced an enormous task of keeping the public informed using rapidly changing methods, including Facebook and YouTube – with mixed results. read more

Public health experts: the vaccine is safe for babies and young children Covid vaccine rumors scare parents, leaving children at risk

This graph from the Public Health Covid dashboard shows the number of confirmed and probable cases of Covid by age in the county since March 14, 2020, including more than 5,000 confirmed cases among children

by Natalie Hanson
posted July 7

California children are lagging behind adults in vaccination rates, and misinformation about vaccine safety may increase risks for families, health experts say.

The battle over scientific data versus politicized debate erupted in Butte County, where parents and political leaders at times pushed false information about the virus to argue against shutdowns and removal of masking requirements.

While vaccines for those younger than 5 were approved in June, vaccines for children older than 5 have been available for months. But the state’s Health Equity dashboard shows that statewide, in the 5-11 age bracket only 36% are fully vaccinated and in the 12-17 bracket 67% fully vaccinated. The average vaccination rates for adults in California range from 78% to 85%. read more

Medical experts warn against complacency as new COVID variant appears Counties like Butte most at risk for a surge

Enloe Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Marcia Nelson

by Natalie Hanson
posted April 16

Public health experts are urging people to stay vigilant and get vaccination boosters as the new COVID-19 variant BA.2 becomes the dominant strain of coronavirus.

Experts worry that as the new variant spreads, in counties like Butte where vaccination rates and community masking are low, communities will be particularly vulnerable.

Butte County Public Health data reports that as of April 11, the population is 55.8% fully vaccinated, 5.76% partially vaccinated and 38.35% unvaccinated. Yet, statewide, 75% of people 5 and older are fully vaccinated and 9% are partially vaccinated. read more

School leaders in Chico work to reduce “unfinished learning” In wake of pandemic, experts suggest reform; Chapman employs community model

photo by Leslie Layton
Principal Mike Allen at Chapman Elementary just before opening bell.

by Natalie Hanson
posted March 23

As the pandemic disrupted Chico’s Chapman neighborhood, Chapman Elementary School Principal Mike Allen was one of several local school leaders known to knock on students’ doors and check on them, often with food in hand.

The schools were closed by state mandate with only online learning from March through August 2020, meaning that children missed seven months of in-person education. In October 2020, Chico Unified adopted a hybrid model. In August 2021, campuses fully opened to in-person learning. read more

Pandemic’s painful toll in Butte County discussed at briefing Panelists call for dialogue, stronger leadership

photo by Leslie Layton
Butte County Public Health’s Victor Rodriguez speaking at a statewide media briefing.

by Leslie Layton
posted Dec. 11

Butte County’s abysmal COVID-19 vaccination rate is a symptom of an anti-science movement that has cost lives, polarized communities, and contributed to a “climate of denial,” panelists said at a statewide media briefing.

Five Butte County residents made up a panel at a briefing sponsored by Ethnic Media Services earlier this week to discuss this region’s COVID toll. They reminded a Zoom audience of 62 people that the county has been ravaged by wildfires, its residents slammed by soaring housing costs. On top of all that, misinformation about the virus has further polarized communities. read more

Break the “local silence” on Covid Chico teen says youth need "dialogue of healing"

photo courtesy of Maya Klein

by Maya Klein
guest commentary
posted Dec. 10

Ed. note: This is a condensed version of a presentation made by Chico’s Maya Klein at a Dec. 7 statewide Ethnic Media Services briefing.

My high school — Inspire School of Arts and Sciences — is a bubble within Chico. Our student vaccination rate is 82%, and our population generally follows mask and hygiene guidelines.

Our 2020-2021 school year remained almost entirely on Zoom classes, following a 1×8 schedule in which we delved into a single class for each month until the end of the school year. During this time, other high schools within Chico had returned to in-person learning, and as a result, student Covid cases began to increase. read more