How a coroner’s report about a Santa Rosa 15-year-old’s death went viral
On Tuesday morning, a Twitter account called Reopen California Schools posted the image of a Death Investigation Synopsis Report prepared for the Sonoma County coroner’s office.
The “manner of death” was ruled “undetermined,” but the report, which outlined the sudden passing of a 15-year-old Santa Rosa boy, hinted at a connection to a coronavirus vaccine shot the teen received two days before he died.
Over the next 48 hours, news of the fatality — and the picture of the coroner’s report — spread through social media channels and partisan websites across America. And beyond.
“Vaccinare con questa merda di intruglio i giovanissimi può portare i vaccinatori ad una morte cruenta ! ( avvisati siete ),” one Twitter user commented. Wrote another : “La police du comté de Sonoma, en Californie, blâme le macaron pour avoir causé la mort soudaine d’un adolescent de Santa Rosa.”
That first message is Italian for “Vaccinating the very young with this sh*t of concoction can lead the vaccinators to a bloody death! (warned you are).”
The second is French for, “Police in Sonoma County, Calif., Blame the ‘button’ for causing the sudden death of a Santa Rosa teenager.”
A local family’s most intimate tragedy, the unexpected death of a seemingly healthy child, had become part of a global, multilingual call for relaxed health restrictions, less government control and, especially, repudiation of the COVID vaccines.
This one hit close to home for Sonoma County residents, but it certainly isn’t the first time since the start of the pandemic that social media has weaponized a medical issue. Consider the many laymen who have drawn conclusions from the sparse entry for the Santa Rosa boy’s death in the national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
“I can tell you, that’s not how you’re supposed to look at it,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious disease epidemiologist and pediatric vaccinologist who works for Stanford University. “It would be like me reading an article about cardiac infarction and thinking I could go in and do an operation. And I’m a doctor. So I don’t know how someone can read an article and deduce whether something like that is a fact or not.”
Rumors of the teenager’s death had apparently been circulating in the community since the incident occurred in early June. But it didn’t erupt until Tuesday, when the Twitter account for a group called Reopen California Schools posted a copy of the coroner’s report, with a caption that read, “BREAKING: PRA’d Synopsis Report from Sonoma County Sheriff’s office reveals otherwise healthy 15 year old died in June from heart issues due to second Covid vaccine two days prior.”
“PRA” is a reference to the California Public Records Act, a 1968 law, which gives citizens access to a wide range of government documents.
As of Friday afternoon, Reopen California Schools’ original post had between 500-600 retweets, and a similar number of likes. That’s not exactly viral-content territory. Yet over the days that followed, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s report flowed from there and into a vast, well-established network of right-leaning platforms.
One of the first to jump on the story was RedState.com, whose opening paragraph read, “Over the 18 months of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, data and studies worldwide concerning children and COVID-19 have shown the chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19 are minimal compared to the adult population.”
RedState’s story was picked up pretty much verbatim by timebomb2000.com — which has a heavy focus on anti-Biden, anti-lockdown, anti-vaccine material — and by NWO Report (the initials standing for New World Order), and by CitiGist, a more varied aggregating site.
For those who insisted the coroner’s report had connected all the dots, the home run came when the Charlie Kirk Show website ran its brief version of the story on Wednesday. Kirk is a prominent conservative activist and talk show host with 1.7 million Twitter followers.
The sprouting of that original Reopen California Schools post surprised its creator only a little.
“I intentionally did not even post it to the Facebook group,” said Jonathan Zachreson, a 37-year-old father of three who lives in Roseville. “I knew that if I posted it on Twitter — it’s a little different platform — it would be enough for other news agencies to look into it. My frustration is that nobody was covering it.”