Local health officers say they are eager to utilize new confidentiality program

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Governor Gavin Newsom’s new executive order is meant to protect public health officials. 

Health officers and other officials will now be eligible for the state’s Safe at Home Program to keep their home addresses confidential. 

It’s an effort to shield them from harassment and threats some have experienced over the course of the pandemic. 

From protests over stay-at-home orders to people refusing to wear masks, health officials have seen a lot of backlash across the state throughout the pandemic. 

While updating her neighbors through weekly videos, Yuba-Sutter Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu tries her hardest to not read the comments on YouTube and Facebook. 

“We’re seeing a lot of anger and some of that, unfortunately, is targeted toward us health officers,” Luu told FOX40. “There have been comments about coming to my house. That does give me a bit of a pause.” 

Health officers across the state are dealing with threats and harassment for simply doing their jobs. And in some cases, it’s reached a criminal level. 

Alan Viarengo is facing felony counts of stalking and threatening a public official after sending two dozen threatening letters to Santa Clara County’s top public health official. 

“We’re trying our best to keep our communities safe, but we also want to feel that we are safe on a personal level,” Luu said. 

It’s why she was relieved to hear of an executive order from Newsom Wednesday night. 

The Safe at Home Program provides a substitute mailing address for protection. It’s typically used for victims of domestic violence, stalking or human trafficking. 

Sacramento County Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said she plans to take part in the program as soon as she can. 

“I do appreciate the extra assistance in making sure myself and my family are kept safe,” Kasirye said. 

While Luu sees the executive order as a first step, she said she hopes community members can change their actions so all public health officials can feel secure in their jobs. 

“Everyone is in this together and we need to work together to ensure the health and safety of all Californians,” she said.

The governor’s order also allows local governments to halt evictions of commercial renters through March 31. 

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