Theresa Greenfield on Tuesday called on Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst to apologize for pushing a conspiracy theory related to COVID-19 infections and deaths, echoing the challenge she first made over the weekend at the Polk County Steak Fry.
“Sen. Ernst, I am calling on you today to publicly apologize to our doctors, our nurses, our health care workers, our hospitals. These folks are heroes and they’re putting their lives on the line to keep us healthy and safe during this pandemic,” Greenfield said during a virtual press conference. “Actively misleading the public regarding our health care and our health care system is wrong and it is not Iowa values.”
Greenfield’s presser on Tuesday afternoon stems from comments Ernst made Aug. 31 at an event in Black Hawk County, where she suggested hospitals are inflating the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths for financial gain. Iowa’s junior U.S. senator also said, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, she was “so skeptical” of the coronavirus death toll and case counts in the United States, perpetuating a false claim made by President Trump, QAnon and far-right commentators that the U.S. death toll is far lower than the reported 194,700.
There is no evidence to suggest hospital administrators or medical professionals are exaggerating the number of COVID-19 patients they treat or how many have died due to complications from the respiratory disease, prompting swift condemnation across the state for Ernst’s statements.
Starting Line reported last week that Ernst privately apologized to the Iowa Medical Society “for what she described as misstatements on her behalf but stopped short of committing to a public apology,” according to an email the organization sent its members.
Ernst has not apologized in public for the comments Iowa medical professionals have called “incredibly disappointing,” “hurtful and offensive” and “dangerous.”
Greenfield also used the press conference to call attention to Ernst’s votes against the Affordable Care Act and her lack of support for allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.
When asked by Politico whether she would have “confidence” in a coronavirus vaccine if it is made available this year, Greenfield said she would “follow the advice of public health experts.”
“We are pretty good at it here in the United States at developing vaccines and we have treated many diseases in the past,” Greenfield said. “I’m absolutely going to follow their advice about the safety and how they direct vaccines, how it’s administered, who should take them, when they should take them. We have experts for that.”
By Elizabeth Meyer
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