Op Ed

Paging Dr. Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson says COVID-19 doesn’t cause many deaths or long-term symptoms. Wrong and wrong.

By - Dec 1st, 2020 10:47 am
Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / (CC BY-SA)

Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson is an impostor pretending to be a health care expert and a U.S. senator. But Johnson is in over his head and oblivious of facts. He is an object of ridicule, even from other Republican senators.

Johnson has consistently downplayed the pandemic: “And again, a rational reaction to (COVID-19) would recognize the fact that the vast majority of people that get coronavirus will survive without much worse symptoms than a cold or a normal flu.” Johnson also said: “We don’t shut down the economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways”

About 40,000 people, including 500+ in Wisconsin, die yearly in traffic accidents. By contrast, there have been 13+ million COVID-19 cases and near 270,000 deaths nationally. Wisconsin is stunned from a cumulative near 400,000 cases and 3,300+ deaths — in just nine months. Wisconsin Doctor Patrick Remington, formerly with the CDC, predicted that Wisconsin will have 5,000+ dead by year’s end. “Anybody who says this is not a big deal is not looking at the numbers,” Remington said.

Moreover, many infected by COVID-19 develop long-term health problems. “The range of reported symptoms is vast. They include unusual fatigue from physical or mental activity, brain fog, temperature irregularities, rashes, memory problems and insomnia. …COVID-19 virus can (also) damage the lungs, heart and brain …” (NYT). Until vaccines are widely available and utilized, masks, physical distancing and avoiding crowds are the only defense. That is why about 37 Democratic and GOP governors have implemented mask mandates.

But Johnson said: “I’m not for mask mandates. I’m for individual responsibility.” A moral abdication, as the U.S. leads in cumulative cases and deaths. Instead Johnson advocates magical thinking and quackery. He is still hawking hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, giving his imprimatur at a November Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing. But Admiral-Doctor Brett Giroir, Health and Human Services assistant secretary said: “(T)here’s been five … trials that do not show any benefit to hydroxychloroquine, so … we don’t recommend that as a treatment.” Earlier, the FDA “revoked the emergency use authorization” of the drug, citing “risk of heart rhythm problems.”

But Johnson can’t help himself. He has called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “the greatest single threat to my freedom … .” Despite the libelous hyperbole, the ACA has extended health coverage (200,000+ Wisconsinites) and consumer protections, including covering preexisting conditions (one million+ Wisconsinites). A lifesaver during a pandemic and economic downturn. However, Johnson is still hoping the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA.

And, as Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Johnson is not up to the job. No hearings on price gouging and fraud in the selling of PPE or allegations against his former fundraiser Mike Gula, under investigation by Congress, Maryland and the Justice Department for profiteering and failing to provide masks and other PPE Gula was selling.

Instead of pushing crackpot ideas why isn’t Johnson using his committee to look at attacks by Russian cybercriminals against U.S. hospitals and health systems, endangering COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials and treatment studies. Time to act like a real senator.

Bill Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

One thought on “Op Ed: Paging Dr. Johnson”

  1. TransitRider says:

    Everybody of a certain age, I’m sure, agrees that polio was a terrible disease. But covid is far more dangerous than polio ever was.

    At its worst (1952), there were only 58,000 reported cases of polio in the US, most of which were mild (temporary upper respiratory distress, fever, flu-like symptoms, etc). Serious polio cases—deaths (3,145) and paralysis (21,269)—are dwarfed by the 300,000 covid deaths we’ll attain by year-end.

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