Tillis, who like Ernst and Marshall is facing a tight reelection race, told a caller in a virtual town hall that she was “absolutely right” when she said the 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 really include deaths “from things like heart attacks and slip and falls,” just because the people “have COVID in their system.”
“You're making a very, very important point,'' Tillis said. “In fact, we understand that 95 percent of the deaths were co-morbidities,” he added.
The remarks from Tillis echo the widely debunked theory that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are in reality just a fraction of the total recorded by health officials.
Tillis repeated that vaccine decisions should be left to parents before appearing to embrace herd immunity.
“I for one hope that 60% of the country either develops an immune response after having gotten COVID or having the vaccine, because once we've gotten up to 60% this will be a manageable illness in the United States,” he said. (Scientists estimate that a little more than 2% of the U.S. population has acquired the virus, at the cost of more than 200,000 lives.)
The caller sounded like a “great mom,” Tillis concluded.
The comorbidity theory reflects a viral QAnon meme, which misrepresents a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that COVID-19 was the sole factor in only 6% of reported U.S. deaths from the coronavirus.
The theory concludes incorrectly that only 6% of those reported deaths should count, a claim which has been repeatedly debunked by medical professionals. If anything, the true number of deaths related to COVID-19 is likely undercounted, according to experts. Victims with at least one other contributing factor, such as pneumonia — itself often brought about by the virus — are still part of the total number of deaths.
Cal Cunningham (D. NC) wasted no time slamming Tillis on this:
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