A Michigan health official has issued a desperate plea for help from local authorities after he says a woman tried to run him off the road—twice—following the announcement of a mask mandate for schools.
“There is a sickness in America far more insidious than COVID,” Kent County Health Department Director Adam London wrote in an email to county commissioners last month, begging them to unite in a show of force against “brute mob hatred.” The email, obtained and published by Michigan Advance, details the threats London said he has faced after he announced a mask mandate for school children in preschool through sixth grade—an age group that is not yet eligible for any COVID-19 vaccines.
“I had a woman try to run me off the road at 70+ miles per hour… twice, on Friday night,” London wrote. “I think we have all seen the aggression and violence displayed at meetings across the nation during the past week.”
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that London had reported a “traffic incident” on the night of the alleged highway attack, but said he was “unable to get a license plate number or provide a detailed description” of the car and ultimately no report was filed.
The threats have also extended to his children, he said.
“Last week, I had a person yell out to me, ‘Hey mother******, I hope someone abuses your kids and forces you to watch,’” he told the county commissioners.
His request to the commissioners was a simple one: “I pray that people more powerful than me, Democrats and Republicans, rise up with one voice and say, ‘We will not tolerate or provide quarter for this nonsense in our part of America.’”
But Republican commissioners reportedly declined to sign their names to a statement of support for county health officials penned by Democrats.
London’s story is a familiar one for health officials across the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in its second year. Health officials tasked with protecting residents from a pandemic that is now the deadliest in U.S. history are increasingly finding themselves making life-or-death decisions about their own safety.
Linda Veil, a health officer in Michigan’s Ingham County, said threats against public-health officials are becoming the norm.
In comments to WKAR, Veil said she had a security system installed as she faced the rising aggression. “Some have had to go further than that and get some protection for a period of time,” she said.
The “intimidation” and “aggression” detailed by London has also led other health officials to simply give up rather than try to counter the wave of vitriol and misinformation. In other cases, they’ve been forced out.
Nick Lawyer, a health officer in Montana’s Sanders County, resigned after a man confronted him at a meeting of the county commissioners, calling him a “petty tyrant” and accusing him personally of causing his wife’s death because she was not given the anti-parasite drug Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine. Neither drug has been shown to effectively treat COVID-19, and similarly, neither drug has been given approval for such treatment on the federal level. In contrast, the use of ivermectin, which is made in separate forms for animals and humans, has sparked an increase in calls to poison-control centers and prompted the Food and Drug Administration to issue a statement telling Americans to stop using it for the coronavirus.
Lawyer was nonetheless blamed for local health recommendations that do not allow for the drugs in the treatment of COVID-19.
“I had to watch her die slowly and in agony,” the man, Gerald “Frenchy” Cuvillier, told Lawyer before storming out of the commissioners’ meeting, according to the AP. Cuvillier’s wife, who was 82, died on Sept. 7.
It was after the confrontation that Lawyer says he was asked to step down.
“I am disappointed to leave the board during this time of great need for evidence based health measures. While this was not my preference I understand the request,” he wrote in a Twitter post that included a copy of his resignation letter.
Ultimately, he said, he was stepping aside in order to stop “the strife and conflict coming from a minority of people objecting.”