WASHINGTON — This week, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst questioned the COVID-19 death toll, echoing a conspiracy theory pushed by QAnon followers. Rather than respecting medical professionals on the frontlines of this crisis, Senator Ernst gave credence to right-wing fringe groups. But Ernst isn’t the only member of the Iowa GOP spreading dangerous conspiracies.
Republican state lawmakers have already been promoting conspiracy theories that risk the health and safety of Iowans. Representative Ann Meyer claimed that physicians were politically motivated to make the COVID-19 data look bad to harm Republican Governor Kim Reynolds. Representative Jeff Shipley shared a constituent email that he received to claim that the lockdown was the effort of a “coordinated political group” and that health experts were fear-mongering for no reason. He also insisted that “this virus isn’t even killing anybody.” Obviously, none of these Republican claims are based in reality.
“Dangerous right-wing fringe conspiracy theories are taking over the entire Republican Party and this is just the latest example,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “By downplaying the harmful toll of COVID-19, Republicans up and down the ballot have made it clear that they are only concerned with peddling misinformation and conspiracy theories to hide their utter failure to contain the coronavirus. They should be ashamed of prioritizing political gain above the lives of Iowans and disrespecting the health care workers risking their lives to fight this virus.”
In Iowa, over 66,000 residents have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 1,100 Iowans have died. Just this past weekend, the White House named Iowa as the worst state in the country for the spread of the coronavirus. This is a serious crisis that requires a smart, rapid response from elected officials — something Republicans have yet to accomplish.