NOAA Fisheries is Restricting the Use of the Words “COVID-19” and “Pandemic”

Published Jul 8, 2020

What happened: An official memo, issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, stated that the agency’s “preferred approach” is making “no reference to anything COVID related” in public-facing documents. Agency staff can only directly mention COVID-19 or the pandemic on an “extremely limited basis” and it requires the approval of leadership.

Why it matters: Censoring language on the COVID-19 pandemic hinders the ability of scientists to speak to the public about the worst health crisis faced in a century. This sets a dangerous precedent of restricting scientific communication on the pandemic when the public needs this information to protect their health and safety. For NOAA Fisheries, this could thwart science-based communication about the seafood industry, marine ecosystems, and coastal communities when the pandemic is in the process of threating food supply chains and causing outbreaks on fishing vessels.

Learn more about how the Trump administration is censoring NOAA staff from directly talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.