Attorney General Todd Rokita openly questions whether people are dying from COVID-19 (they are); suggests public health conspiracy

Two Northeast Indiana health officers take issue with comments
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 2:42 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - During a television interview, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita openly questioned whether people have died from COVID-19 and insisted he doesn’t trust “the numbers” because they’ve been “politicized.”

The comments came during an interview with WSBT TV news anchor Todd Connor last week. Rokita tweeted the clip on Wednesday and used it to push his stance against vaccine mandates.

“I don’t believe any numbers anymore and I’m sorry about that,” Rokita told Connor. “They have been politicized statewide. I think we have to focus on whether people are dying anymore.”

Indeed, COVID-19 deaths are mounting in Indiana. On Wednesday, the state reported 86 new deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 18,057. Hospitals are burdened and strained as their resources are stretched thin by a surge of COVID-19 patients. A US Navy team is deploying to the IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to support the struggling staff. Healthcare facilities in Fort Wayne report a drastic increase in occupied hospital beds while traveling nurses are being used to bolster a taxed workforce.

When asked by ABC21 whether he has confidence in the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 accounting, Mr. Rokita, through a spokersperson, declined to answer that question directly. Instead, Mr. Rokita issued a statement that further pushed conspiracy theories and cast doubt on Indiana’s public health workers.

“The fact that a significant number of Hoosiers and myself don’t trust the COVID numbers, isn’t my fault, nor is it the fault of Hoosiers. Unfortunately, talking heads and politicians who want to control others’ behavior have created distrust by advocating for unscientific mandates and lockdowns, while hurting hard working families and children along the way. For example, saying ‘people dying of The Wuhan virus’ is different than ‘dying with the Virus’, yet the numbers are unclear on this. And of course the state’s health systems and the relevant parts of state government that are subsidized by the federal government get reimbursed better when the virus related numbers are higher. Therefore the politicians and the ‘smart’ scientists like Dr. Fauci have only worsened the situation with their agendas.”

Suggesting that hospitals and public health entities are seeking reimbursement by inflating COVID-19 numbers is a conspiracy theory that is popular in some internet circles, but has no grounding in reality and is sharply denied by healthcare providers who are burdened by a rush of COVID-19 patients. Rokita’s comments, offered without evidence, mark a stunning suggestion from a government official, particularly the state’s top lawyer. Rokita is said to have his eyes set on the race for the governor’s office.

Two top doctors in Northeast Indiana are taking issue with the Attorney General’s comments.

“I don’t know how to make those numbers up,” said Huntington County Health Officer Matthew Pflieger in an interview with ABC21. “ [I]f he’s saying that there’s a conspiracy going on for all of the numbers, then he’s claiming that millions of health care workers are in on a conspiracy.”

“It’s a little bit insulting to the staff at the department of health when he says he doesn’t believe the numbers,” said DeKalb County Health Officer Mark Souder. “They’re accurate, very factual. The number of deaths attributed to COVID are accurate and useful.”

ABC21 has also contacted state health officials for their reaction but as of press time did not hear back.

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