Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) got himself into hot water following a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Wednesday night that captured his attitude toward the coronavirus outbreak.
Johnson told the newspaper that although he’s not denying that COVID-19 is a “nasty disease”and how it’s “obviously devastating” to between 1 and 3.4 percent of the population, the Wisconsin Republican estimated that 97 to 99 percent “will get through this” and develop immunities.
Johnson went on to say that it’s not worth shutting down the economy because “tens of thousands of people die on the highways.”
“It’s a risk we accept so we can move about,” Johnson said. “We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.”
Johnson added that despite the coronavirus having a far higher fatality rate than the seasonal flu, COVID-19 is “not a death sentence” except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population, but he thinks it’s “probably far less.”
Johnson’s latest remarks aren’t far off from those he made to The New York Times last week that took aim at how “all people are hearing about are the deaths.”
“I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but the flip side of this is the vast majority of people who get coronavirus do survive,”’ Johnson said.
Johnson’s comments to the Journal promptly drew backlash on social media:
can we quarantine stupidity https://t.co/8rObENmmWI
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) March 19, 2020
Ron Johnson looks at the statistical bright side of hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of Americans dying of a pandemic https://t.co/P61ZN4WFrN
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) March 18, 2020
“a single death is a tragedy, a million, a statistic.” – ron johnson, basically
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) March 19, 2020
"I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but" https://t.co/HYKnN9Ndpt
— Philip Bump (@pbump) March 18, 2020
One of the fun things about these people downplaying rona deaths (Ron Johnson, Musk, etc) is they keep saying “cars kill so many more people!!” and they’re so right, it really is disgraceful that we tolerate cars https://t.co/dak5PCkoBj
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) March 18, 2020
Ron Johnson is an idiot. Approx 2% of the country died in the Civil War and it completely changed a million things (like the way religion was practiced, for one); see Drew Gilpin Faust's great book: https://t.co/UF7ZT2VT3Y https://t.co/vcRKqKrJHK
— Brian Gaar (@briangaar) March 19, 2020
Read Johnson’s interview in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.