The Kansas Academy of Family Physicians rejects President Donald Trump’s claim doctors are profiting from inflation of COVID-19 deaths. U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, joined Trump to say the death toll was exaggerated because just 6% of reported coronavirus fatalities were among people with no underlying medical condition. (Screenshot)
TOPEKA — The Kansas Academy of Family Physicians denounced Monday attempts by politicians and conspiracy theorists to minimize the death toll of COVID-19 and specifically challenged President Donald Trump’s claim doctors were enriching themselves by labeling deaths as linked to the coronavirus.
Chad Johanning, a Lawrence physician and president of the academy representing 2,000 physicians and medical students in Kansas, said it was wrong to allege health professionals working to save lives during the pandemic violated the Hippocratic oath to “first, do no harm.”
“As a family physician serving on the front lines and fighting the effects of COVID-19 across our Kansas communities with my health care colleagues, I’m disheartened to have to again defend the work that we are doing,” Johanning said.
He said the goal of physicians was to keep COVID-19 numbers down in communities, treat patients who do contract the virus and work to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.
“To suggest otherwise in this latest claim that doctors are capitalizing off the pandemic is not only unfounded, but also insulting to Kansas family physicians and all physicians alike. Such claims only embolden the harmful and unhelpful belief that science isn’t to be trusted,” he said.
The claim about COVID-19 deaths has been circulated on social media by people convinced fatalities were lower than officially reported and that danger of the disease was overblown.
In August, Trump retweeted a post asserting only 6% of reported deaths had a singular cause of COVID-19 on death certificates.
Twitter removed his post out of concern the perspective endorsed by Trump and others was a misrepresentation of comorbidity data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A person without pre-existing conditions who dies with COVID-19 will have comorbidities in the form of symptions, including respiratory failure, caused by the coronavirus.
U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican and physician running for U.S. Senate against Democratic nominee Barbara Bollier, complained in September that Facebook removed a post in which he related that 94% of COVID-19 deaths reported by the CDC involved people with two or three underlying medical conditions or were people at an advanced age.
In other words, the congressman said, 6% of U.S. fatalities tied to COVID-19 were people afflicted with nothing other than the virus. His post had apparently been viewed by 80,000 people and shared by thousands of others.
“Social media companies should be not allowed to censor science that they disagree with,” Marshall said at that time. “This is corporate censorship, pure and simple. This was data published by the CDC, but unfortunately did not fit the narrative that the left and the liberal media want us to believe.”
Reeves Oyster, a spokesoman for the Kansas Democratic Party, said Marshall should be held responsible for “refusing to follow the public health guidance, spreading misinformation and not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.”
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