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Politifact Gives “MOSTLY FALSE” Rating to Dan Forest’s Claim That Flu Is ‘17 Times’ More Dangerous to Kids Than Coronavirus


Sep 15, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
CONTACT: Liz Doherty

Politifact Gives “MOSTLY FALSE” Rating to Dan Forest’s Claim That Flu Is ‘17 Times’ More Dangerous to Kids Than Coronavirus

RALEIGH — In several interviews and on the campaign trail, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest claimed that kids were “17 times” more likely to have “ill effects” from the flu than coronavirus. Politifact rates this claim “mostly false.”

Alan Schroeder, a critical care physician at Stanford Children’s Health, says that Forest is “really oversimplifying the issues at hand.” As Politifact notes: “In the context of school reopenings, Schroeder said there’s a lot more to consider — children who have underlying conditions, child-to-adult transmissions — than a healthy child’s likelihood of dying when compared with the flu.” Schroeder added, Forest’s claim “downplays the risks of COVID-19,” which is why Politifact rated it “mostly false.”

This isn’t the first time that Forest has spread misinformation about the pandemic. In July, Politifact gave a “false” rating to Forest’s reckless claim “masks do not work with viruses.” Politifact notes, “And that’s the goal in this pandemic: to stop the spread.” 

Yet, Forest has made no attempt to stop the spread. He has held many indoor campaign events without mask wearing or social distancing, in the midst of the pandemic. Forest has made it his goal to “shake as many hands [he] can” on the campaign trail and continue in-person campaigning.

KEY POINTS:

  • Even if the Wall Street Journal’s description of the study is accurate, Forest isn’t representing it correctly.
  • The term “ill effects” is squishy and vague. 
  • “I’m not familiar with such a statistic,” said Bill Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
  • Neither is Alan Schroeder, critical care physician at Stanford Children’s Health. Schroeder said he hesitates to put a number on the likelihood of children suffering from the flu more than COVID-19.
  • “The notion that kids aren’t getting really sick is by and large true. But the disparities between influenza and COVID-19 have narrowed considerably,” [Schroeder] said.

READ MORE: WRAL: “Fact check: Forest says flu ’17 times’ more dangerous to kids than coronavirus,” By Paul Specht, September 14, 2020.

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