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Saginaw County health officials debunk coronavirus conspiracy theories in Zoom chat



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SAGINAW, MI Saginaw County Health Department officials held an event Wednesday designed to debunking some common COVID-19 myths.

In a Wednesday, Aug. 5, Facebook Live event, Health Officer Christina Harrington and Medical Director Dr. Delicia Pruitt traded questions and answers with each other regarding death counts, testing numbers, conspiracy theories linking coronavirus to the 2020 election, contact tracing, efficacy of masks and social distancing, and what a negative test result means within a 14-day quarantine.

As of Wednesday morning, there have been 1,803 positive cases in Saginaw County. Of those, 125 have died and 893 have recovered.

Pruitt opened the dialog by asking Harrington if testing is taking longer because more people are being tested.

We know that testing has increased, Harrington replied. We know in the beginning of the March time frame that testing was very much restricted. At the beginning of July, we were at about 400 or so tests a day.

The most recent seven-day average has involved about 700 tests a day, with more laboratories and resources available to conduct the tests, she said.

Once we were able to expand upon the availability of testing, we worked very much locally to say, How do we get people tested? Harrington said. What is the scope? How widespread is it? We have to do that through testing. Theres no other way to do it.

Harrington said she disagrees with the statement that somebody should not get tested.

If theyre leaving the home, that criteria still exists, she said.

Pruitt advised of several testing sites throughout the region, which can be found on the Saginaw County Health Departments website here.

If you have symptoms, even something as small as the loss of taste, feel free to get tested, because we dont want you spreading COVID-19 to other people, Pruitt said.

Harrington asked Pruitt to address the rumor that all deaths are being counted as stemming from COVID-19.

When we get a death certificate as a physician, we have to list the number one cause of death, Pruitt said. Then we put in other causes that may be related. So, if someone has diabetes, high blood pressure, and theyre walking around doing totally fine, and all of a sudden, these people get COVID -19 and now theyre not fine, most likely its the COVID-19 that caused the problem.

Similarly, if someone afflicted with COVID-19 suffers some fatal physical trauma say a gunshot wound that injury would be listed as the main cause of death, with COVID-19 listed a secondary or tertiary diagnosis.

We as physicians know how important this really is to get the death certificate correct, Pruitt said. A lot of times, people have lawsuits based on death certificates. We work very hard to make sure these are correct. The thing that most likely caused the death is what were going to list. Were not going to put COVID-19 if someone had (it) and was walking down the street and got shot. Thats not the reason they died.

Harrington added that if a person is confirmed to have the virus, theyre put into a statewide surveillance system. Those who have been put into this system and later die have their circumstances investigated locally to determine the influence of the virus on the death, Harrington said.

Pruitt asked Harrington if its true people who have already tested positive for the virus are forced to be retested and their results counted twice. Harrington said this is untrue, elaborating that while some people are retested and are persistently positive, those subsequent results are not counted as separate cases. It would take a substantial lag between positive tests say 60 days or more for one person to be counted twice.

Weve had people get five or six retests and theyre still in there as one case and theyre counted one time, Harrington said.

A significant misconception, Harrington said, is that if a person receives a negative test that theyre cleared to return to work. Pruitt said despite a negative test result, the incubation period for the virus takes two to 14 days. This means those who have symptoms or know theyve been exposed to a positive person should still quarantine for a two-week period, regardless of negative test results, Pruitt said.

Pruitt asked Harrington to address the statement that those listed as recovered are just positive cases who havent died. Harrington said this is untrue, and that those listed as recovered are those who previously tested positive but no longer are contagious or exhibit symptoms, per a follow up investigation.

Harrington also dispelled theories that emerging contact-tracing apps are being used to track peoples physical movements or steal their digital data.

When I hear that, it does make me laugh a little bit, because there are so many other apps on our phones that are tracking what we do, Harrington said.

Harrington then posed the big one to Pruitt COVID-19 is fake and this is going to be resolved in November.

Well, guys, this is what I want to tell you about that, Pruitt said. There is no election in Brazil and they have COVID-19. There is no election in Italy and they have COVID-19. Itd be one thing if only just hit the United States, but its hitting the rest of the world. Im sorry to let everyone know, when it comes to a pandemic which means people are dying everywhere its just not about the United States.

Pandemics are not based on elections, she said.

Harrington brought up allegations that media hype of the virus is trying to sway the election.

If you come in contact with someone whos had a relative die (of COVID-19) I can tell you that its a big deal, Pruitt said. As time goes on, more and more people are dying. When people are under a lot of stress and tragedy, we normalize things it because thats the only way we can deal with that.

Harrington mentioned the approximately 155,000 people who have died in the U.S. due to coronavirus.

You guys, that is not a small number, Pruitt said. Thats 155,000 people that somebody cared about, that a lot of people cared about. I really doubt that people are faking that. This is not about politics at all.

The duo went on to combat notions that the pandemic is comparable to the seasonal influenza outbreak, which kills about 40,000 per year. The estimated death rate of people infected with the flu is about 0.1 percent, whereas the estimated death rate of those infected with coronavirus is about 3.3 percent, Harrington said.

Thats a huge difference, she said. 155,000 deaths and 40,000 deaths, obviously, is a dramatic difference in the numbers. Its not just like the flu. Its not something we should just brush off.

Since COVID-19 is new to the human species, its not yet known how immunity will develop, Harrington said.

The duo further addressed how the wearing of masks has somehow become a politicized matter and that wearing them is itself dangerous.

Good Democratic and good Republican people still wear masks, Pruitt said. This is not a political issue. Good people just wear masks.

The masks have openings to the sides and above them. If you are wearing a mask that prevents you from breathing, the simple solution is to get one that allows you to breathe, as masks come in a variety of types, Pruitt said.

She did say there are certain people who should not wear masks, such as children younger than 2 and those with severe respiratory issues.

But most of us, the majority of us, can wear a mask and should wear a mask, Pruitt said.


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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ



Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ


Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”


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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video



HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video


HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.


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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…



unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...


My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.


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