Johnson Draws Fire For Coronavirus Remarks: It’s ‘Not A Death Sentence’

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks to journalists at a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on 5 September, 2019. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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:

Read Johnson’s interview in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

TPM Staff
Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: