“Disgusting,” “Incredibly insulting and infuriating,” “Attacking those on the front lines during a pandemic. Unreal”

DES MOINES – Iowa infectious disease experts and health care workers are sharply rebuking Senator Joni Ernst for pushing debunked and deeply alarming conspiracy theories that demonize frontline workers – claiming that health providers are overcounting COVID-19 cases and deaths in order to profit.

As reported by the Waterloo Courier, Senator Ernst told Iowans on Monday that she was “so skeptical” of the reported numbers and claimed that only 10,000 Americans have died due to coronavirus, when in reality over 180,000 have lost their life to the virus. The Washington Post also reported that Ernst’s controversial comments “inspired backlash from some observers, who viewed the remarks as undermining health-care workers who have been on the front lines of the pandemic.”

Senator Ernst continues to reject calls from infectious disease experts for Iowa to enact a mask mandate – coming as Ernst herself has been caught on video and in photos going unmasked and breaking social distancing in crowded settings.

Black Hawk County State Representative and health care professional Timi Brown-Powers: “As a health care professional, it’s deeply alarming that Senator Ernst – a public official with access to the information necessary to understanding exactly how dire this health crisis is for Iowans – is pushing dangerous misinformation. Ernst’s lack of compassion is sickening, inappropriate, and unprofessional. It’s also no surprise that Senator Ernst has refused to fight for critical relief for Iowa health providers and professionals, when she’s trafficking categorically false conspiracy theories that demonize medical workers and downplay the rapidly spreading virus that’s taken the life of loved ones from over 1,100 Iowa families.”

Dr. Eli Perencevich, Professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Iowa and Director of the HRS&D CADRE Center of Innovation in the Iowa City VA Health Care System: 

Dr. Rossana Rosa, an infectious diseases physician at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines:

Dr. Andrew Terry, Emergency Medicine Physician at MercyOne Des Moines:

Dr. Leyla Best, infectious disease specialist at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines:

Dr. Nathan Boonstra, a general pediatrician at Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic and UnityPoint Health – Des Moines:

Additionally, Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding – senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists – called Ernst’s controversial comments “jaw dropping.” 

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