Utah epidemiologist latest target of attacks on health officials by anti-science protesters

"People feel that it is OK to harass civil servants. It’s wrong."

October 30, 2020, 3:07 PM

A dozen unmasked protesters carrying American flags stood outside the home of Utah's state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, Thursday, after Dunn's address was leaked online.

"Take the fight to these job recking [sic] economy busting TYRANTS HOMES!" one Facebook commenter said in response to an online flyer featuring Dunn's home address, Salt Lake City ABC affiliate KTVX reported.

"Hold their feet to the fire so they know WE ALL KNOW WHO THEY ARE!!!!," commenters wrote.

PHOTO: State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn speaks during a COVID-19 briefing at the Utah State Capitol, Oct. 29, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn speaks during a COVID-19 briefing at the Utah State Capitol, Oct. 29, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Spenser Heaps/Deseret News via AP, Pool

"It’s scary and wrong that someone would feel comfortable sharing my personal information," Dunn said during a news conference Thursday after the protest.

"It’s taken a really big toll on my family and myself and they’re supposed to be there again tonight. I think it’s really unfortunate that we live in a state where people feel that it is OK to harass civil servants. It’s wrong."

Doxxing, or publicly broadcasting private information about individuals or organizations, is just the latest threat against health officials since the pandemic began.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's most high-profile infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force, has received death threats, as have his adult daughters.

PHOTO: Anti-mask protestors march to the home of Utah Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, Oct. 29, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Anti-mask protestors march to the home of Utah Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, Oct. 29, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP

Less well-known public health officials around the country, many of them women, have been targeted and harassed.

Female health officials in Ohio, Washington, Georgia, California and Florida have been on the receiving end of online and in-person harassment. Ohio protesters, some of whom were armed, went to the state health department director's home with sexist and antisemitic signs. Less than a month later, the director resigned.

Tech mogul Elon Musk railed against a female county health official this spring, tweeting that the official was "ignorant," after his factory was subject to a pandemic lockdown order.

"Someone very casually suggested that I should be shot" during a Facebook Live event, recalled Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. Americans are angry about the impact of the pandemic, Ferrer previously told ABC News.

They are "looking for somebody to blame -- and found a target," she added.

U.S. COVID cases hit a third peak
U.S. COVID cases hit a third peak
ABC News

In reality, the United States' outbreak has never looked more dire.

The 7-day rolling average for new COVID-19 cases in the United States reached its third peak on Wednesday, with 74,095 infections. As of Friday, 228,909 Americans had died of the virus.

By every measurable metric: new cases, hospitalizations, testing positivity rate and deaths, the outbreak is worsening, experts say.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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