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So skeptical: Sen. Joni Ernst echoes conspiracy theory questioning coronavirus death count

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So skeptical: Sen. Joni Ernst echoes conspiracy theory questioning coronavirus death count

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Ernsts comments echo conspiracy theories pushed by QAnon followers that have been debunked by doctors and public health experts. According to fact-checking site PolitiFact, public health experts believe the number of coronavirus deaths is probably undercounted, because many of the hardest-hit cities lacked the resources to effectively document every death early in the pandemic.

Critics lashed out at Ernst over the claim, including Democrat Theresa Greenfield, who is seeking to unseat her in a November election expected to be tight.

Its appalling for you to say youre so skeptical of the toll this pandemic has on our families and communities across Iowa, Greenfield said in a tweet directed at Ernst. We need leaders who will take this seriously.

Ernst did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post late Tuesday. In an interview with the Courier, she expanded on why she doubted the number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus, which has claimed at least 181,000 lives in the United States and killed 1,121 people in Iowa as of early Wednesday.

They do get reimbursed higher amounts if its a covid-related illness or death, she said, referring to doctors and medical workers.

I heard the same thing on the news, she continued. Theyre thinking there may be 10,000 or less deaths that were actually singularly covid-19. Im just really curious. It would be interesting to know that.

It is true that Medicaid adds a 20 percent increase in payments for covid-19 patients, but those dollars are meant to address the added cost of treating a challenging new virus. Doctors have widely disputed the suggestion that the increase has prompted hospitals to inflate coronavirus case or death numbers.

Her inaccurate figure of 10,000 or fewer covid-19 deaths is similar to a widely spread QAnon meme that misinterpreted a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That study said the coronavirus was the only contributing factor in 6 percent of reported deaths. The conspiracy theory that claims the U.S. death toll is inflated incorrectly assumes that only 6 percent of deaths should be counted in the covid-19 death tally. The study does not support that claim.

In the other 94 percent of coronavirus deaths, the victims had at least one other contributing factor. Those deaths still count toward the overall number of deaths caused by the virus. Health experts have known since the early days of the pandemic that preexisting conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease, increase a patients likelihood to die of a coronavirus infection.

The suggestion that the U.S. death toll has been inflated has been echoed by QAnon accounts and even retweeted by President Trump. When Trump on Sunday retweeted a QAnon follower named Mel Q who made the claim on Twitter, the social media site removed the tweet for spreading false information about the pandemic.

In the past week, new coronavirus cases have spiked by nearly 84 percent in Ernsts state and the death toll increased by 25 percent. Nightclubs, concert venues and sporting arenas are still closed in Iowa, but most other businesses have been allowed to reopen and children are required to attend in-person classes at public schools throughout the state.

The senators unfounded claims inspired backlash from some observers, who viewed the remarks as undermining health-care workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic.

Senator Ernst is from Iowa, where currently is having one of the WORST #COVID19 OUTBREAKS hotspot in the entire nation as a region, and some say maybe the world, Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist, health economist and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted Tuesday in response to Ernsts comments. To deny that is to deny the suffering of Iowans.



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

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

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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

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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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…

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

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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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