New York Times: “Senator Thom Tillis reinforces a conspiracy theory falsely suggesting the coronavirus death toll is inflated.”
“Health experts have said they are dismayed by the prominence of the conspiracy theory, and have sought to correct the record.”
Senator Tillis “reinforced” and “embraced” a QAnon conspiracy theory that falsely suggests that the government’s coronavirus death toll was inflated, telling a constituent who said the number of COVID deaths are “skewed” that she was “making a very, very important point” and was “absolutely right.”
The debunked theory is a misreading of data from the Centers for Disease Control, according to Dr. Fauci and our nation’s top health experts who have been “dismayed” by the spread of the conspiracy theory, which has been parroted by other vulnerable Republicans like Senator Joni Ernst and President Trump.
This isn’t the first time Senator Tillis has flouted public health guidance. Last month, Senator Tillis faced strong criticism after he was caught going maskless at the White House RNC event after criticizing others for not following COVID precautions. As AP noted, “There sat Tillis within the tightly packed, largely unmasked crowd, also not wearing a mask.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
New York Times: Senator Thom Tillis reinforces a conspiracy theory falsely suggesting the coronavirus death toll is inflated.
September 24, 2020
- Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina on Thursday reinforced a conspiracy theory that falsely suggests that the government’s coronavirus death toll was inflated because many of those who died also had underlying health conditions.
- A Republican in a tight race for re-election, Mr. Tillis told a caller in a telephone town hall that she was “absolutely right” when she claimed the “200,000 death mark” includes deaths “from things like heart attacks and slip and falls.’’ The caller, named Casey, added: “How many people has Covid actually killed? Because I think the numbers are skewed.’’
- “You’re making a very, very important point,’’ Mr. Tillis said adding, “In fact, we understand that 95 percent of the deaths were co-morbidities.”
- President Trump, who has sought to play down the impact of the virus, retweeted a false claim in August that fewer than 10,000 people had died of Covid-19. That post was removed by Twitter.
- Mr. Tillis’s remarks echoed similar ones by Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, who earlier this month said she was “so skeptical” of government death statistics for the virus. She later acknowledged the death count from Covid-19 was accurate.
- Polls show Mr. Tillis narrowly trailing his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham.
The Hill: Tillis pushes debunked theory about COVID death toll
By Nathaniel Weixel
September 24, 2020
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Thursday appeared to reinforce doubts about the total number of Americans who have died from COVID-19 after a woman called into a virtual town hall saying many of the fatalities include deaths “from things like heart attacks and slip and falls.”
- His comments come as others in the GOP, including President Trump, Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and Rep. Roger Marshall (Kan.), have downplayed the extent of the coronavirus pandemic by pointing to a conspiracy theory that the number of deaths is much lower.
- Tillis, who like Ernst and Marshall is facing a tight reelection race, told the caller in a virtual town hall that she was “absolutely right” when she said the 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 really include deaths “from things like heart attacks and slip and falls,” just because the people “have COVID in their system.”
- Health experts have said they are dismayed by the prominence of the conspiracy theory, and have sought to correct the record.
- Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said earlier this month that just because someone with COVID-19 has an underlying health condition doesn’t mean they didn’t die from the virus.
- “That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19 — they did — so the numbers that you’ve been hearing, the 180,000-plus deaths, are real deaths from COVID-19,” Fauci said.
Salon: Exclusive: GOP Sen. Thom Tillis embraced QAnon conspiracy about COVID-19 death count in town hall
By Roger Sollenberger
September 24, 2020
- Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., on Thursday told a virtual town hall audience that he believed the 200,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S. had been inflated in order to “encourage people to use social distancing.”
- “When the final accounting is done,” the actual COVID-19 death count will be lower, Tillis claimed.
- The response echoes a false conspiracy theory pushed by adherents of the baseless QAnon movement: that public health officials are allegedly lying to the public about the true death count because of ulterior or possibly sinister motives. Only 6% of the reported deaths are attributable solely to COVID-19, the conspiracy theorists claim.
- Tillis also embraced an extreme anti-vaccine position and appeared to welcome herd immunity as part of a strategy to get 60% of the country immune. (Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said last month that a herd immunity strategy would lead to an “enormous” death rate that would be “totally unacceptable.”)
- The Republican incumbent told the caller that she was “absolutely right” in saying “the CDC has made clear” that deaths related to COVID-19 cover “things like heart attacks, and slip-and-falls and things like that” when people “have COVID in their system.” The caller told Tillis she wanted “a more definitive, clear number.”
- “How many people has COVID actually killed?” the caller asked. “Because I think the numbers are skewed, and as citizens, we’re having a hard time of getting a real grasp of what that number actually is.”
- “You are absolutely right,” Tillis replied. “I want to make sure I get a chance to answer your question, but you’re making a very, very important point.”
- The caller went on to ask her intended question, which was about her concerns over the government implementing a vaccine mandate.
- “I don’t want the government telling me that I have to vaccinate my child — for anything, honestly — for whatever effect. Because, as a parent, it is my job before God, honestly, to make sure my children are healthy,” she said. “I’m not a fan of this vaccine — or any vaccine being mandated.”
- “You ought to save your phone call for somebody who thinks a mandate would be good,” Tillis responded. “I don’t think you’ll see a mandate, number one. And number two, you’re absolutely right.”
- Tillis repeated that vaccine decisions should be left to parents before appearing to embrace herd immunity.
- “I for one hope that 60% of the country either develops an immune response after having gotten COVID or having the vaccine, because once we’ve gotten up to 60% this will be a manageable illness in the United States,” he said. (Scientists estimate that a little more than 2% of the U.S. population has acquired the virus, at the cost of more than 200,000 lives.)
- The caller sounded like a “great mom,” Tillis concluded.