GOP uses debunked theory to downplay COVID-19 death toll


Leading Republicans seek to play down the heavy toll from the coronavirus, in part by pointing to a conspiracy theory that the death toll is much lower.President TrumpDonald John Trump Cohen Says In New Book Trump Is “Guilty Of Same Crimes” He “Princess Bride” To Meet For Wisconsin Democrats Fundraiser Bernie Sanders Warns Trump Cannot Concede Election MORE, with Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay Ernst The Hill’s 12:30 p.m. report: First Kennedy to lose Massachusetts election Ernst says she is “skeptical” of death toll from coronaviruses Trump warnings of anarchy divide GOP candidates MORE (R-Iowa) et Rep. Roger MarshallLobbying group Roger W. MarshallBank launches ad supporting Collins re-election Collins re-election chamber to run ads defending embattled GOP senators McConnell warns Senate scrutiny “could go both ways” in November MORE (R-Kan.), Who both compete in competitive Senate races, have all pointed out in recent days the widely debunked theory that deaths from COVID-19 in the United States total only 10,000 instead of over 180,000 registered by health officials.

The speculative remarks come at a time when around 1,000 people die from the virus each day, providing a grim backdrop for the final sprint until election day. Trump, meanwhile, has tried to project an upbeat message, frequently pointing to rapid progress towards a vaccine and saying he believes the virus is “going away.”

The Trump administration has also increasingly focused on protecting vulnerable populations such as the elderly, rather than focusing on a broader strategy to eradicate the disease as a whole.

The discredited theory in question points to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) page Web claiming that the coronavirus was listed as the sole cause of just 6% of deaths from the virus. However, that does not mean that the remaining 94% did not die from the coronavirus. Instead, it means either that another factor directly caused by the coronavirus was also listed, such as respiratory failure, or that there was an underlying condition like obesity or diabetes that didn’t. is not necessarily fatal on its own but that increases the risk of coronavirus.

The 6 percent figure was entered, however, to minimize the death toll. Last weekend Trump retweeted a post by user Mel Q, who also believes in the QAnon conspiracy theory, claiming that only around 9,000 people have “actually” died from coronavirus. Twitter later deleted the tweet for violating its rules.

Ernst also said on Monday she was “so skeptical” about the number of cases and deaths from the coronavirus, later adding, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: “They think there might be 10,000 or fewer deaths that were actually singularly COVID-19… I’m just really curious. It would be interesting to know.

Marshall, who is a doctor, highlighted the theory based on the 6% statistic in a Facebook post on Sunday.

“This week, the CDC quietly updated its COVID-19 data to reflect the number of deaths from COVID-19 alone,” he wrote, adding that it was “only 6%” , according to a screenshot. published by KSNT.

Facebook deleted the post, a spokesperson saying it violated “our policies against spreading harmful false information about COVID-19 because it distorts CDC data on mortality from the disease.”

The prominence of the discredited theory and its adoption among senior Republicans have dismayed experts.

“It’s completely, to me, mind-boggling that people are using it as fodder for a conspiracy theory,” said Amesh Adalja, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

He said experts have long claimed that underlying conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are risk factors for having a more severe case of coronavirus, so “it’s not surprising” that conditions like this are listed as present in many coronavirus deaths.

“I don’t know why it’s even a story other than people trying to downplay what is a serious infectious disease,” Adalja added.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciHarris on Getting COVID-19 Vaccine Before Election: “I Wouldn’t Trust Donald Trump” Obama Promotes Social Distancing, Mask Wearing Over Labor Day Weekend Businesses Developing COVID-19 vaccines plan to issue joint PLUS safety pledge, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also told ABC this week: “It doesn’t mean that a person with hypertension or diabetes who dies from COVID hasn’t died from COVID-19 – they did – so the numbers you heard that the 180,000+ deaths are real deaths from COVID-19. “

Asked about Trump’s retweets at a press conference on Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was “pointing to new CDC information that has been released that is worth noting “.

Ernst took a different tone in a statement released by his office, saying: “More than 180,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. What matters is that we get the resources to fight this virus into Iowa and continue to support our healthcare workers on the front lines, and that’s what I’m focusing on.

Marshall’s campaign manager Eric Pahls wrote in an email: “Dr. Marshall was simply presenting data from the CDC. He did not offer some kind of analysis or analysis, “adding that the Senate candidate” respects this virus “.

The promotion of the debunked theory has been accompanied by other efforts to question the effects of the coronavirus. Trump mocked Democratic presidential candidate at rally Thursday Joe BidenJoe Biden “Princess Bride” to meet for Wisconsin Democrats fundraiser Anita Hill says she will vote for Biden Buttigieg, former Obama officials added to Biden transition team MORE to wear a mask.

“Have you ever seen a man who loves masks as much as he does?” Trump told a largely maskless crowd, while saying he was “all for” people wearing masks. Trump himself rarely wears a mask.

The president also placed more emphasis on encouraging low-risk people to get on with their lives, with an emphasis on protections for the elderly.

“We are aggressively protecting those most at risk, especially the elderly, while allowing low-risk Americans to return to work and school safely,” Trump said in his acceptance speech at the Hours prime time at the Republican National Convention last week.

This approach is in line with the suggestions of White House adviser Scott Atlas, a doctor who has no experience in infectious diseases and is affiliated with the curator Hoover Institution. Atlas downplayed concerns about the virus spreading among people who are not old or in other high-risk groups, even saying it could be a good thing.

“When you isolate everyone, including all healthy people, you prolong the problem because you prevent the immunity of the population,” he added. said in a Fox News radio interview in July. “Groups at low risk of contracting the infection are not a problem. In fact, this is a positive point.

Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Trump Food and Drug Administration, countered this point of view in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece last weekend. “The best way to protect vulnerable people is to try to protect everyone,” he wrote, stressing that the virus must be contained.

The White House not bad continues the strategy of population immunity or collective immunity mentioned by Atlas.

The criticism follows new testing guidelines from the CDC late last month that recommended reducing testing of asymptomatic people not in high-risk groups. The guidelines say that asymptomatic people do not need to be tested, even if they have been in close contact with an infected person, “unless you are a vulnerable person or your health care provider or them. state or local public health authorities recommend that you take one. “

Amid a firestorm of experts claiming the country needs more testing, not less, CDC Director Robert Redfield look for clarify the guidelines but did not overrule them.

Democrats, meanwhile, are under attack, pointing in particular to Republicans questioning the death toll.

Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic candidate for the Senate of Iowa, this Ernst was pushing “dangerous conspiracy theories that undermine the very people on the front lines who sacrifice themselves to protect us.”

Helen Kalla, spokesperson for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, added: “We cannot afford leaders who peddle false information and dangerous conspiracy theories and refuse to take the pandemic seriously.”


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