GOP congressman falsely claims there's 'no evidence' virus safety rules help


Rep. Jody Hice is spreading dangerous misinformation about the guidance on how to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) is badmouthing safety measures meant to contain the new coronavirus and spreading misinformation about the scientific evidence backing them.

"It's ludicrous, it's arbitrary and it's absolutely unnecessary," Hice told Politico on Monday about science-based policies to protect people from getting sick. "In some cases, there's no evidence whatsoever that they eliminate the spread of Covid-19. It's just abusive, dictatorial, tyrannical-type leadership."

But Dr. Ali Mokdad, a researcher with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said in late March that, when states have implemented stay-at-home orders, "we have seen a reduction in mortality."

"We are not here to scare people," Mokdad said, adding, "please stay at home, because we don't want people to die from" this pandemic.

On April 2, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN that every state in the country should implement stay-at-home orders in order to help contain the virus.

"I just don't understand why we're not doing that," Fauci said. "We really should be. I don't understand why that's not happening."

In the same interview, Fauci warned against the very action Hice is taking in advocating against stay-at-home orders.

"If you back off, and you don't mitigate, there is a possibility that number (of deaths) will go up," he said. "And that is the worst possible thing in the world you want to see."

Hice's home state of Georgia was one of the first states to abandon stay-at-home orders when Republican Gov. Brian Kemp allowed barber shops, salons, gyms, restaurants, and bowling alleys to reopen in late April. As of Monday morning, Georgia has more than 33,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, and at least 1,405 people have died.

Nicholas Jewell, a professor at the Unversity of California Berkley, said the push to reopen businesses in states too early is a bad idea from a health perspective.

"States that are like 'we need to keep our economy opened,' that's a mistake," he told the Washington Post. "That's the lesson we've learned over and over again in infectious diseases."

Despite the widespread cautions from medical experts, Republicans like Hice have fought against stay-at-home orders.

In mid-April, Donald Trump encouraged protesters to revolt against Democratic governors in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia who had implemented stay-at-home orders. In May, Trump praised armed protesters attempting to intimidate Michigan officials as "very good people."

In early May, Republican lawmakers rallied around a salon owner who was fined and ordered to go to jail for violating the state's order that her business should remain closed.

"These punishments are NOT just," Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-FL) tweeted about the situation. "Small-minded 'leaders' across the country have become drunk with power. This must end."

Since Republicans have pushed for ending stay-at-home orders, the number of coronavirus cases across the nation has increased, just as some medical experts predicted.

Dr. Howard Markel, a University of Michigan expert in the history of medicine, recently told the American Public Health Association that if states ignore health experts and give in to the misinformation from figures like Hice, "you will have incurred all the economic and social disruptions of [stay-at-home orders] for nothing."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.