Social media backlash leads to cancellation of OBX Safer Spot program

Following numerous negative comments on Facebook and other social media platforms, the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services and Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce have called off an effort to recognize local businesses and others who get the COVID-19 vaccination.

Known as OBX Safer Spot, businesses, organizations and establishments which had at least 70 percent of their employees vaccinated would have received the recognition.

Among the items that would have been provided included a window sticker and listing on a county-maintained webpage, and a gift bag with giveaways.

“Some individuals have used this initiative as an opportunity to spread fear, negativity and hate,” said Sheila Davies, director of the county’s health and human services department.

The announcement made last week generated more than 100 comments on the OBX Today Facebook page alone, with a vast majority voicing opposition.

Some came from self-proclaimed “anti-vaxers” who have flooded posts throughout the pandemic with inaccurate or even dangerous rhetoric, while others made false claims that the program was a violation of federal health privacy law.

Still more levied threats that they would boycott businesses that participated and even visiting the Outer Banks as a whole.

“Our businesses work too hard to endure unfounded criticism,” Davies said. “We appreciate all the business community is doing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Dare County.”

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at swalker3@jammediallc.com