COVID-19 is personal for me. I am a primary care physician in Rochester and see the toll it has taken on my patients, colleagues and community.
My husband takes care of COVID-19 patients in the hospital, witnessing firsthand the devastation of this disease. My family members were ill with COVID-19 in New York, and several have died. That is why I am shocked and horrified that our Congressman, Jim Hagedorn, is willing to traffic conspiracy theories that downplay the pandemic that has impacted our entire community.
Hagedorn represents an area with internationally recognized experts in infectious disease and epidemiology. Instead of sharing the wealth of information from these doctors and experts, he chose to promote dangerous disinformation.
He posted a Facebook video of two California doctors convincing the public that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu (231,000 deaths worldwide suggest otherwise) and that social distancing has no benefit.
These doctors were immediately denounced by their own medical societies for spreading these dangerous theories, yet Hagedorn chose to amplify them at our expense.
The fact that our representative would spread that kind of misinformation is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Minimizing the dangers of COVID-19 and dismissing the tens of thousands who have died will only lead to more (preventable) infections and deaths.
Instead of fighting for our community, Hagedorn’s words and actions are hurting people. As a physician on the frontlines of fighting this crisis, I cannot stand silent to his reckless behavior.