Tito’s World 2: The Huntington Beach Mayor Pro-Tem’s Plan to Kill Your Grandma.


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[This is the second installment in a series of articles about the conspiracy theories Mayor Pro Tem Ortiz promotes and believes, and how they will impact the citizens he was elected to represent.]

Two quick matters I’d like settled before I get to Mayor Pro-Tem Tito Ortiz: 

  1. If you’re anti-vaccine, you’re an idiot. 
  2. You’re not going to change my mind about this. 

On Tuesday morning, the OC Board of Supervisors assembled for their regular biweekly meeting, and much like their staff, the agenda was riddled with COVID-19. One of the biggest debates of the day was vaccine distribution, and specifically how to build trust in the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The anti-vaccine community has been active in Orange County for decades, but their real 15 minutes of fame came in 2015, during the debate surrounding SB 277 (on this blog, Tyler in Irvine published a thorough but succinct recap of the argument in favor of the bill, and the Winships published this free-association diatribe against). In recent months, the anti-vaxxers and alt-right movements have formed an inevitable political alliance against California’s COVID restrictions, and this viral mutation of absolute insanity has infected Huntington Beach’s resident Bad Boy, Tito Ortiz. 

Tito might be new to the anti-vaxx movement, but when it comes to conspiracy theories, he’s a quick study. In the month of December alone, he shared six anti-vaccine propaganda posts on Instagram, all but one of which are flagged as false or partly false by Instagram’s independent fact checkers. 

“Uh… Tito Watch?
Don’t you think you’re overreacting?
It’s just a few Instagram posts.”

No! A few Instagram posts may not seem like a big deal, but extensive research shows that anti-vaxx groups and disinformation campaigns on social media sites have a negative impact on vaccination rates and public health outcomes. And if studies alone won’t convince you that Tito’s Instagram posts are a problem, you should hear this moving testimony from the son of an anti-vaxxer. Once someone enters an anti-vaccine echo chamber, it requires specific, targeted strategies to help them out of it.

The OC Board of Supervisors is apparently willing to throw a yet undetermined amount of money at that problem. Today, they approved funding for Idea Hall to create a pro-vaccine PR campaign, and the OC Department of Health recently published the results of their Vaccine Hesitancy Survey. Of Huntington Beach residents surveyed, somewhere around 60% say they’re willing to get the vaccine. That’s about 10% short of the 70% we need in order to reach herd immunity. 

The county’s PR campaign will be a waste of money if city officials continue to actively and publicly undermine their efforts – particularly Mayor Pro Tem Ortiz, who has a considerably larger following than most local politicians (over 344K, for those of you who care). 

“Okay, T-Dubs, we get that now.
But what does any of it have to do with my grandma?” 

There are two ways to achieve herd immunity: vaccinations, or allowing the virus to spread like wildfire through the community and praying everyone survives. According to the demographic breakdown on the city’s website, there are around 37,000 adults over the age of 65 living in Huntington Beach – nearly 20% of the city’s population; and according to the CDC, eight out of ten confirmed COVID fatalities were in patients over the age of 65. 

If Ortiz had his way, we would completely re-open with no precautions whatsoever… no masks, and no vaccine. In his mind, that’s the only way to save businesses in Huntington Beach. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that possibly killing off one-fifth of our city’s population, and leaving many more of us with massive medical debts, would completely devastate the local economy and tank the real estate market. 

Mayor Pro Tem Ortiz is an ideological minority on the HBCC, and his power to make big, splashy changes is limited. I’m not afraid that he’ll, say, ban all vaccines from the City of Huntington Beach. However, I do worry that hearing anti-vaxx conspiracies from members of our local government will further erode public trust in medical professionals and democratic institutions. 

Even if you don’t care about my grandmother, think of the realtors, Tito!

Previously in this series:
And Our Tito Watch Begins…
Tito Tries a Council Meeting!
Tito and Facial Coverings: A Dark Surf City Comedy
#SaveOurChildren… and How it Doesn’t.
Champion of the Oppressed: Unmasked Tito Thrown out of Meeting.


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