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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) tried to downplay how bad the impact of the novel coronavirus will be, and in the process showed his science skills are not up to speed.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he suggested that the social distancing measures being taken to stop the spread of the virus are overblown.

“I’m sure the deaths are horrific … I’m not denying what a nasty disease COVID-19 can be, and how it’s obviously devastating to somewhere between 1 and 3.4 percent of the population,” Johnson told the Journal Sentinel.

“We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu,” Johnson added.

Using Johnson’s logic, even if just 1 percent of the 329 million people living in the United States died of COVID-19 disease, that would be 3.29 million deaths. If 3.4 percent of the American population died, that would be a staggering 11.2 million people.

Johnson didn’t acknowledge that even if people don’t die of COVID-19 disease, the American health care system cannot withstand an influx of millions of sick people needing ventilators and beds in intensive care units.

A fear of overloading the country’s health care system is a big reason why social distancing measures have been put into place, an effort described as “flattening the curve.” If the spread can be slowed, the health care system will better be able to handle the number of severe cases of COVID-19 disease.

Not only is Johnson publicly downplaying the threats the coronavirus poses, he’s also voted against helping the millions of people losing income and even their jobs while social distancing measures are in place.

Johnson was one of eight Republicans to vote against a coronavirus relief bill on Wednesday that provides free testing for the coronavirus disease, offers paid family and sick leave, and beefs up food assistance and unemployment benefits.

Trump vaccine adviser Moncef Slaoui

Photo by Fortunebrainstormhealth/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The former pharmaceutical executive tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the administration's race to a COVID-19 vaccine is refusing to give up investments that stand to benefit from his work — at least during his lifetime.

The executive, Moncef Slaoui, is the top scientist on Operation Warp Speed, the administration's effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine in record time. Federal law requires government officials to disclose their personal finances and divest any holdings relating to their work, but Slaoui said he wouldn't take the job under those conditions. So the administration said it's treating him as a contractor. Contractors aren't bound by the same ethics rules but also aren't supposed to wield as much authority as full employees.

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