They're dangerous lies to tell as coronavirus cases soar to an all-time high.
Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene took to Twitter Wednesday night to falsely claim the COVID vaccine is dangerous and to mock mask-wearing as ineffective.
"Sadly, many families have dealt with vaccine injuries," she tweeted accompanying a link to an article inaccurately stating that the COVID vaccine causes Bell's palsy. "All COVID-19 vaccines should be by CHOICE. Not mandated."
She then posted a meme of a face mask reshaped to look like a holiday angel, captioned "The Official DIY Christmas ornament for 2020."
Accompanying the meme, Greene tweeted: "The most effective use of a mask!"
Later, she complained on the platform that the necessity for a COVID vaccine has been overhyped.
"Over 99% of people under age 60 survive COVID-19," she tweeted, quoting the Hoover Institute's Victor Davis Hanson appearing on Fox News. "There are very real side effects being reported with the [COVID] vaccine. Why are Democrats wanting the vaccine distributed based on racial justice? Oppose!"
But COVID denialism is just the latest in Greene's long history of spreading disinformation.
Greene, elected to the House in November as representative for the 14th Congressional District of Georgia, is notorious for her other tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories.
She is a proud supporter of QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory touting that a secret cabal of Democratic child abusers control the U.S. government, and once called "Q," its purported leader, a "patriot."
In June, Politico uncovered videos of Greene spouting hateful racist, antisemitic, and Islamophobic views.
According to the outlet, she called Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros a "Nazi," claimed Muslims did not belong in politics, and accused Black voters of being "slaves to the Democratic Party."
Greene has also promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories in the past, referring to a "so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon" in a 2018 video.
"It’s odd there's never any evidence shown for a plane in the Pentagon," she said.
Views like Greene's grow increasingly dangerous during a global pandemic that claimed a record number of lives Wednesday.
Also on Wednesday, top infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was "extraordinary" that many Americans still view the coronavirus pandemic as a hoax.
"Trouble is, you go to different parts of the country and even when an outbreak is clear and hospitals are on the verge of being overrun, there are a substantial proportion of people who still think this is not real, that it's fake news or it's a hoax," Fauci said.
As the vaccine is rolled out, Fauci said it's critical that Americans get on board with public health measures.
"It's extraordinary, I have never really seen anything like this," he noted Wednesday. "We have got to overcome that and pull together as a nation... with adhering to public health measures."
But much like Greene, many Americans are still promoting wild conspiracy theories about the virus.
According to a YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project survey in late October, 38% of Americans believe the COVID death rate has been greatly exaggerated.
An April study concluded that 30% of Americans believed that the U.S. government created COVID-19, and another July study noted that some 25% of Americans believed coronavirus-related conspiracy theories in whole or in part.
University of Bristol cognitive psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky, who specializes in the study of disinformation, noted that conspiracy theories abound where governments send mixed messages to the public.
And Donald Trump has been especially guilty of this.
The White House occupant recently claimed that photos by a Nevada doctor of makeshift COVID ward in a parking lot were a hoax, and notoriously predicted that the virus would simply disappear after the election.
But such denialism is not uncommon during frightening periods of history, Lewandosky said.
"Any scary event — a pandemic, a mass shooting — that denies people a sense of control will lead to a proliferation of conspiracy theories," he added. "They give people a sense of psychological comfort: the feeling that they are not at the mercy of randomness."
He noted that conspiracy theories are dangerous in general, but "more so in a pandemic if they lead people to ignore official advice, or commit acts of vandalism or violence."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.