DENVER (CBS4) – When the pandemic started, health care workers were our heroes early on. Communities collectively howled and banged pots in support of their sacrifice.
Fast forward to what will be our third year in the pandemic, and Joshua Ewing with the Colorado Hospital Association says things have changed.
“We no longer go outside to howl. Instead our health care workers are facing incredible threats online and verbally and frankly an increase in violence against them since the pandemic started,” he said.
Their organization lobbied to get doctors and nurses across Colorado included in an Anti-Doxing Bill.
If passed, those in the health care industry along with a handful of other occupations could request to have their private information sealed, to prevent someone from maliciously publishing it on the internet.
“To give them that kind of security is just a reasonable step,” Rep. Colin Larson said.
Larson is one of the bill’s sponsors. He says it wouldn’t be applied across the board, but instead done case by case.
“This process that we have put in is really specific. It has to be someone who has received a threat,” he said.
Lawmakers heard testimony from one health care worker, who CBS4 is choosing not to identify, who shared her hospitals vaccine policy with a patient via email. It made its way online with her name attached and now months later she still lives in fear.
“Though I didn’t adopt the policy, my letter resulted in inciting a cyber mob directed at me personally. I was subject to hundreds of phone calls, emails and social media posts that range from support to detailed and graphic death threats against me and my family,” she said.
While we may be nearing a new phase of the pandemic, Ewing says the changes to our health care system will likely stick around and the added protections are needed
“The politicization of our health care system, of COVID-19 and the threats that have resulted from that that’s not easily undone, and it’s going to take some time,” he said.
The bipartisan bill will now head to the Senate where lawmakers expect it to pass before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.