DNT DEBATE: GOP Senate Candidate Jason Lewis Downplays Coronavirus Outbreak and Spreads Misinformation, Puts Minnesotans’ Health At Risk

ST. PAUL [9/18/20]–Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis has been downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus for months. From the beginning, Lewis has spread baseless conspiracy theories and misinformation, and he has denigrated public health experts.

Lewis has questioned the COVID-19 death toll, and he shared a debunked conspiracy theory falsely claiming that the government was going to force people to get tattoos to prove they received a COVID-19 vaccine. He dismissed the virus as simply a “wintertime sickness,” and more recently falsely claimed that children can’t transmit the virus–the same day Minnesota saw its first COVID-related death of a child.


Lewis On COVID-19: “We’re Sort Of Used To This Wintertime Sickness.” “Lewis sounds pretty blasé about the whole thing. Minnesota happens to be the ‘epicenter’ of cold and flu season, he explained.‘So, we’re sort of used to this wintertime sickness,’ he said. ‘And I think… it hasn’t hit the panic stage in the upper Midwest yet. To be clear, COVID-19 isn’t the flu. It’s got similar symptoms and a similar method of transmission—coughing and sneezing—and, like flu, is especially dangerous if you happen to be an older adult, you’re immunocompromised, or you have a preexisting condition. And nearly 100 Minnesotans have died of influenza in this year alone, including two children.” [City Pages, 3/13/20]

Lewis Said The Government Was Going To Make People Get “Vaccines With Tattoos To Make Certain You’ve Got One.” “[Lewis:] ‘If we’re going to start going down this road of mandated masks in public, de facto house arrest, certificates of immunity, vaccines with tattoos to make certain you’ve got one. No protests, can’t gather in front of the governor’s mansion. You start to see what’s going to happen here, and you start to see this sort of Orwellian situation we’re flirting with. And it’s becoming very, very dangerous. We wouldn’t blame you for being a little behind on the headlines. The news cycle these days is exhausting. If you missed the one about vaccine tattoos, just take a deep breath and relax. Rumors of COVID-19 vaccinations with some kind of proof of injection—like tattoos, or, in some cases, microchips—have been percolating in the primordial conspiracy ooze of the internet for a bit now. There’s even an interesting tidbit about Bill Gates being the antichrist and the vaccine being the Mark of the Beast foretold in Revelation.” [City Pages, 5/8/20]

“Former Trump Advisor Steve Bannon To Jason Lewis: Stop Pushing COVID-19 Death Toll Conspiracy Theory.” [DFL, press release, 5/18/20]

  • Lewis Went On Steve Bannon’s Podcast, “War Room: Pandemic,” To Falsely Claim That The COVID-19 Death Toll Was Being Artificially Inflated.LEWIS: “And by the way, one other thing I’ll add — and when this last chapter is written when it comes to these fatality — this presumptive positive thing — and I’m not certain how they did death certificates during this horrible seasonal flus that came before us, but if somebody goes in and has a cardiac arrest and they happen to have symptoms of COVID, in some states, they’re simply saying it’s a COVID death. That — if you did that for the seasonal flu, you’d have a crisis every season.” STEVE BANNON: “You’re not arguing — you’re not taking the tack that you’re gonna argue the death count, are you?” LEWIS: “No, I’m taking the tack that if we’re – “ BANNON: “I’ll tell ya — sure you are. You’re taking — are you gonna be one of these guys that argues the death count? Yes or no?” LEWIS: “No. I’m arguing — I’m — no, I’m arguing – “ BANNON: “Then why’d you bring — then why — then why — then why do you bring it up?” LEWIS: “Because we don’t know how they’re counting. That’s all. The death count is very serious.” BANNON: “But then you’re arguing the death — then you are arguing the death count.” LEWIS: “No, they may very well be right. All we want is transparency, which I don’t think is a very — look, [unintelligible] – “ [YouTube, Jason Lewis on War Room: Pandemic, 5/15/20]

“Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Jason Lewis Echoes Scott Jensen’s Misinformation About Coronavirus That Has Jensen Under Investigation.” [DFL, press release, 7/8/20]

  • State Sen. Dr. Scott Jensen Was Investigated By The Minnesota State Board Of Medical Practice For Pushing The Same COVID-19 Death Count Conspiracy As Lewis.“State Sen. Scott Jensen, a physician and Republican from Chaska, said Sunday that he is being investigated by the Minnesota State Board of Medical Practice for public statements he’s made about COVID-19. Jensen criticized the state Department of Health in April for following federal guidance stipulating when doctors should characterize deaths as due to COVID-19. He said he feared that the death toll might be inflated if each state’s allocation of federal funds depended on the number of COVID-19 deaths.” [Star Tribune, 7/6/20]

“Jason Lewis Falsely Claims Children Can’t Transmit Coronavirus.” [DFL, press release, 7/22/20]

On The Justice & Drew Radio Show, Lewis Falsely Stated That Kids “Don’t Transmit [The Coronavirus], And Certainly Don’t Transmit Asymptomatically.” LEWIS: “Instead of quarantining the sick and the elderly in nursing homes, we quarantined the young and the healthy and infected the former. But look, if these teachers don’t want to go back and teach the kids because of this, I think it’s unnecessary. There’s now more data coming in that kids don’t transmit, and certainly don’t transmit asymptomatically. That’s their prerogative, I guess, if you don’t want to do that and you don’t want to teach. But you’re not going to collect a paycheck for not doing your job, and that’s why the property taxes ought to be refunded, the state ought to have tuition tax credits, the feds in the Elementary Education/Secondary Education Act ought to be refunding money for parents that want to have another education alternative, and we’ve been saying that on the trail all week long.” [Justice & Drew, Jason Lewis interview, 7/20/20]

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