Senator Rand Paul trended Tuesday over remarks he made that some have perceived as spreading misinformation about COVID-19. As he questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Kentucky senator called into question the authority of experts leading the nation’s response to coronavirus.
We ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy. And as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision.
We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy, and the facts will bear this out.
Dr. Fauci responded that he’s merely advising about public health, not the economy. And said he’s never characterized himself as the ultimate authority on these matters. He also warned we need to be cautious when it comes to the health of children:
I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health… I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. We don’t know everything about this virus. And we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children.
A furor of tweets for and against Rand Paul erupted on Twitter after the exchange.
Rand Paul pointed out that the COVID-19 mortality rate for children is near zero:
With regard to going back to school, one thing that was left out of that discussion is mortality. Shouldn’t we at least be discussing what the mortality of children is? The mortality between 0 and 18 in the New York Data approaches zero. It’s not going to be absolutely zero, but it approaches zero.
And he recommended the approach taken by Sweden, which did not close schools and had a remarkably low mortality per capita compared to other European nations:
We need to observe with an open mind what went on in Sweden where the kids kept going to school. The mortality per capita in Sweden is actually less than France, less than Italy, less than Spain, less than Belgium… I don’t think anybody is arguing that what happened in Sweden is an unacceptable result.
In response to Rand Paul’s comments, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) did some “fact-checking” on Paul’s claims. The problem is Beyer is the one spreading misinformation about COVID-19. His “facts” are very misleading.
Beyer took issue with the following claim:
In rural states we never really reached any sort of pandemic levels in Kentucky and other states. We have less deaths in Kentucky than we have in an average flu season. It’s not to say this isn’t deadly, but really outside of New England, we’ve had a relatively benign course for this virus nationwide.
You can read Beyer’s response in the screenshot of his tweet above.
To begin with, Paul never claimed anything like the existence of special immunity based on where you live. But as for the figures, the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Warren County, as of 1:27 PM Central Time Tuesday, was 263. As of 2019, its population was 132,896. That’s 197 COVID-19 cases per 100,000.
Reviewing NPR’s state-by-state coronavirus case map, up-to-date as of Tuesday morning when it was published, all New England states but three have a significantly higher case per capita rate than Warren County, KY, and the commonwealth of Kentucky as a whole.
Perhaps Beyer’s claims are technically accurate if you break them down by county. But he’s cherry-picking data and defining it in a certain way to give a misleading impression of a terrible pandemic in Rand Paul’s home county.
It’s a perfect example of how data-based, “science” claims can be used to misinform. The lockdown hawks have cloaked themselves in the aura of science, but that doesn’t mean what they’re saying is right.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.