Public Health vice-chair defends column about death of man who died of COVID-19

Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’

A Toronto Public Health vice-chair has defended her article about a person who died of COVID-19, saying she has no interest in promoting a social justice narrative or shaming anyone.

Kathryn Murphy’s column appeared in Thursday’s Sun, which has since deleted the article from its website. In the column, Murphy wrote that the death of a person who was in self-isolation at home due to COVID-19 was “a tragedy, but not unexpected.”

“I think that we need to be careful to not try to use this as the impetus for a conversation about the value of people who choose to live a life in isolation,” wrote the vice-chair from Toronto’s “Diversity Strategy Forum” on Wednesday afternoon.

Kathryn Murphy, Toronto Public Health vice-chair, defended her April 2 column by saying her only aim was to “promote discourse” around the recent death of a person who was in self-isolation due to COVID-19

There were three other people in the city who died of COVID-19, Murphy said, and none of them was homeless, drug addicts, or immigrants. The article did not discuss the value of those who live alone — which Murphy said she doesn’t believe is relevant to her role as a public health officer.

The Sun apologized for the column, and Murphy said she accepted the apology.

“I think we need to make the distinction between public health and public health strategy,” Murphy told the Star, insisting that she and the Sun editorial board are simply promoting “discourse,” not any opinions.

Murphy said she did not know the name of the man who died until after he died. She said he was a “local person” with no history of being homeless or having drug or alcohol abuse issues. In fact, she said, he was well-liked by his fellow Torontonians.

Murphy said she wrote the article because she is worried about what she sees being depicted in the media: a public health-only narrative

Leave a Comment