Media, LAPD Misrepresent TB Outbreak in Skid Row Creating Unnecessary Fear and Further Demonization: Community Meeting to be held with L.A. Dept. of Public Health to Dispel Rumors Around TB and Promote Effective Health Education

Much has been made in the media this week about the so-called “outbreak” of Tuberculosis in Skid Row. Despite many rumors and mis-information spread by countless news outlets, the Los Angeles County Department of Health is telling everyone not to panic (Click HERE for an Info Sheet the Department just released). Excerpts include:

Should the public be concerned? No, the general public should not be overly concerned. The public needs to know that there is no immediate danger to their health related to the current situation. TB is spread from person to person through the air, and usually requires prolonged, close contact.

Should people working with the homeless population wear a mask? No, but persons working with homeless populations should remain alert to the signs and symptoms of active TB disease (e.g., prolonged cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss) and refer those individuals promptly for further medical evaluation.

It is shameful and irresponsible of the media to mislead the public in a way that causes unwarranted panic and that further demonizes Skid Row. LAPD gave a directive for officers to wear masks, something NOT recommended by Public Health officials. We have also already heard stories and witnessed LAPD sensationalizing the rumors around TB to further violate the rights of local residents.

In the video below, officers justified private security guards illegally going through private property by saying it was “for your own safety” considering “all the stuff that has been in the news” about “people getting sick.” LAPD sits by as BID guards cut open people’s bags – even those clearly marked with Not Abandoned signs.

To counter this mis-information, and promote community-based health responses, LA CAN is organizing a Community Meeting with the LA County Department of Public Health on Friday, March 1, at 6pm. The event will be co-hosted by SRO Housing and held at the James M. Wood Community Center on 400 E. 5th Street (5th and San Julian). Come find out what you really need to know and get involved in promoting community health in Skid Row!

Click HERE for a flyer and help spread the word!