Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Thursday said that the more than 11 million people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the United Stated should “celebrate” — falsely claiming that those people are now immune to coronavirus.
“We have 11 million people in our country who have already had COVID,” Paul told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum during an interview on Thursday night. “We should tell them to celebrate, we should tell them to throw away their masks, go to restaurants, and live again, because these people are now immune.”
Rand Paul: We have 11 million people in our country who have already had COVID. We should tell them to celebrate. We should tell them to throw away their masks, go to restaurants, and live again because these people are now immune(they are not immune) pic.twitter.com/Un2CQ1b5Tg
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) November 13, 2020
The comments, which suggest reinfection is not possible are not only incorrect, but also smack of insensitivity for the more than 242,000 people in the infected group who have already died from the virus and will be unable to “live again.”
The Centers for Disease Control And Prevention have warned against the line of thinking perpetuated by Paul and others in the Trump administration who have suggested once infected, there is no further need for caution, noting that the probability of reinfection likely increases over time due to “waning immunity” and what they’ve called “genetic drift.”
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we expect to see more cases of reinfection,” the CDC has noted on its website.
The GOP lawmaker also used the Fox News podium to advance another false claim, by pushing a conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump has peddled for months. He suggested as Trump did earlier this week, that in the wake of the election, public health officials who Trump believed were conspiring against his bid for reelection would be painting a much rosier picture about the virus that has now entered arguably one of its worst phases since the pandemic began.
“I want to believe he is well-intentioned,” Paul said of infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, before accusing the official of bias because he “believes that submission and lockdowns are fine.”
Paul, who was a physician before entering politics, also suggested that Fauci who has led the country through a number of public health crises “tends to gloss over the science,” using as evidence that Fauci won’t sign onto a widely disputed claim that children “may have preexisting immunity.”
“The bottom line is there’s a great deal of optimism that we should have out there,” Paul said.
His call for “optimism” comes as the country recently reported the most hospitalizations for the virus since the pandemic began earlier this week and topped previous records with more than 150,000 new infections on Thursday– just over a week after hitting the milestone of 100,000 cases in a single day.