Johnson County Public Health request position to improve COVID-19 messaging

The Johnson County Public Department of Health is asking for a communications specialist to improve messaging about COVID-19 for all demographics in the county.


Jerod Ringwald

The Johnson County Administration Building is seen in Iowa City on Monday, Aug. 1, 2021.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

The Johnson County Department of Public Health is requesting a new position in its fiscal 2023 budget to provide public health-related messaging for all demographics in the community.

Danielle Pettit-Majewski, director of Johnson County Public Health, told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors at a work session on Tuesday, that the department is struggling to stay ahead of circulating disinformation about COVID-19.

“The pandemic made it apparent that we needed someone to focus on this duty specifically,” she said. “We were able to handle this to a certain extent during the pandemic because other duties were set aside to respond to COVID-19.”

Pettit-Majewski told supervisors that the department has struggled with how to share information with people who “think differently” during the pandemic.

“We’ve found this a lot with folks who did not want the vaccine for one reason for another, a different demographic,” she said. “How do we message to that demographic?”

Supervisors Chairperson Royceann Porter questioned the request, noting that when the pandemic hit, the county communications department did a lot to get messaging out in different languages.

“That’s why I ask how will this be different than any of the work that has already been done?” she said.

Pettit-Majewski said that moving beyond the pandemic, the position will still be needed in the department.

“We really want to have folks who are going to be able to target that messaging to be able to reach the folks that we need to,” she said. “Sometimes if you try to reach everyone, you reach no one.”

The supervisors will file finalized budget decisions with the State by March 31.