Desperate to Downplay Her Failure to Respond to the Pandemic, Senator Ernst Echoed “Comments Espoused Online by Conspiracy Theorists,” Saying She’s “So Skeptical” of Numbers Reported by Health Providers

In her most despicable attempt yet to downplay the toll of coronavirus, Senator Joni Ernst pushed a debunked QAnon conspiracy theory on Monday that COVID-19 cases and deaths are being purposefully inflated by health providers to make more money, according to a report from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Asked by a constituent in Waterloo about the conspiracy theory, Senator Ernst said she was also “so skeptical” of the reported coronavirus numbers – later saying that she heard “on the news” that there may only be “10,000 or less deaths that were actually singularly COVID-19” – compared to the over 180,000 reported coronavirus deaths across the country.

Senator Ernst’s peddling of the debunked conspiracy theory demonstrates her ongoing disconnect with the dire health and economic circumstances facing workers and families. In Iowa, there have been over 65,000 coronavirus cases and over 1,100 deaths, and on Sunday, the White House labeled Iowa as the worst state in the country for the spread of coronavirus. Ernst previously said Iowa has “fared pretty well” during COVID-19” and said Democrats were just trying to “stir up panic.” 

Senator Ernst’s controversial comments also come as she’s been facing scrutiny for a new video and photos showing she’s been refusing to wear a face mask at crowded events and breaking social distancing at campaign events – despite repeatedly lying to Iowans and members of the press by saying she always wears a face mask to set an example. Ernst has also opposed calls from medical experts and the White House task force for Iowa to enact a mask mandate.

“It is repugnant to Iowa families suffering during this crisis that Senator Ernst is peddling a debunked conspiracy theory in order to downplay the toll of this crisis,” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. “From the moment this crisis hit, Senator Ernst has pointed fingers and played political games – leaving Iowans unprepared and at the whim of a deadly pandemic. Senator Ernst owes Iowans an apology for trying to erase their pain in order to defend her own pandemic failure.”