Once Again, The Arizona Legislature Sponsors A Covid Hearing Filled Of Falsehoods


A lot of antibodies fight the virus after getting a second dose of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Science Photo Library via Getty Images has a picture by Kateryna Kon.

For the third time in less than a year, Arizona Republicans sat quietly and didn’t say anything during a special hearing in the state Senate. The hearing was supposed to look into the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was full of false information, conspiracy theories, and spreading fear about vaccines and public health.

The Novel Coronavirus Southwestern Intergovernmental Committee heard from a group of so-called health experts in May 2023. During the committee’s time, they shared false information about vaccines and the pandemic. The committee then got together again in October 2023 with some of the same “experts.”

The group met again on Friday, and more of the same people were there to speak.

People have said that the committee’s name is awkward, and the QAnon-friendly political charity The America Project has been pushing it in a shorter form. In the world of QAnon, the acronym NCSWIC is often used. It stands for “Nothing Can Stop What Is Coming,” which refers to claims that members of the “Deep State” will be arrested and put to death.

Republican state Sens. Frank Carroll and Janae Shamp, as well as Republican state Rep. Steve Montenegro, who leads the Health and Human Services Committee in the state House of Representatives, were on the group. Plans called for Sen. T.J. Shope to be on the panel, but Carroll said he filled in for the senator because he couldn’t make it.

Shamp, who was at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, has been spreading QAnon conspiracy theories online for years. One of these conspiracy theories has the word “NCSWIC” in it.

QAnon and QAnon followers have been pushed by Montenegro’s job at the America Project.

The agenda said that U.S. Reps. Eli Crane and Paul Gosar were on the committee, but they were nowhere to be found and didn’t send pre-recorded video messages like they have for the last two committees.

Brandi Giles, a registered nurse and Director of Preventable Diseases for Arizona Families for Vaccines, said in a statement, “As a frontline caregiver who worked in the ICU during the height of the pandemic, I was very disappointed today during the Novel COVID South Western Intergovernmental Committee that there was a palpable lack of celebration or even gratitude for the people who comforted loved ones and held their hands during a scary time of uncertainty.”

Giles said, “These attempts to bring down our healthcare heroes are bad for the people of Arizona, science, and public health across the country.

This time, false information is back
Once more, Dr. Peter McCoullough said with confidence that the COVID-19 virus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. No one agrees on where the virus came from.

In Wuhan, China, the spike protein was purposely made in a security lab, according to McCullough. He also said that the US worked with China and that Dr. Anthony Faucci, who led the government’s efforts to fight COVID-19, was involved.

McCullough is known for making false claims, especially about where the virus came from. He has said in the past that he thought the pandemic was “planned” and has pushed the QAnon movie “Pandemic.”

McCullough is well-liked by both QAnon members and people interested in conspiracies in general. He often appears on shows like the one hosted by anti-Semite Stew Peters, who called the COVID vaccine a “bioweapon.” Peters was also behind a number of QAnon conspiracy films that made questionable claims about the vaccine, such as that it contained snake venom.

McCullough has also been on the “Reawaken America” tour of disgraced retired Gen. Michael Flynn, where he spoke out against drag shows and gender identity problems.

They also said that the vaccine killed millions of people, which was not true. The idea comes from a very bad look at the data that said death rates were going up because of the vaccine. Similar lies were also shared by him. For example, he said that the vaccine killed more than 500,000 people in the US, which was based on wrong data from the UK.

He also brought up a conspiracy theory that was popular among QAnon members and was shown in a movie that was later shown to be false: it said that blood clots found in people were caused by the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Died Suddenly,” the movie, makes it seem like the vaccine is part of a dark plan to kill off all the people in the world. However, experts who have looked into what the movie says say that many of the clots look like they formed after death. Blood clots from the vaccine are “very rare,” according to a study that looked at 2 million cases and found only about 1,000 of them.

There were also false scenes in the movie that showed things that happened before the plague in 2020 as effects of vaccinations.

On Friday, the panel also had a presentation by Dr. Robert Apter, who lives in Sedona. Before his talk, he showed a slide that said his views did not reflect those of any organization he works with and that nothing he said should be taken as medical advice.

Apter became well-known among people who are against vaccines because he used the drug ivermectin. Conservatives and people who are against vaccinations liked the drug as a COVID-19 treatment. This made some people look for a version of the drug that was meant for horses instead of people, and more people called poison control centers.

Ivermectin is not an antiviral drug and is mostly used to treat parasitic worms. The Food and Drug Administration has not cleared it to treat COVID-19. People with intestinal diseases and roundworms can take a form of the drug that has been cleared by the FDA.

Apter and others said that the drug helped treat their COVID-19 patients, who they met online through the site “MyFreeDoctor.com.” There was false information spread about COVID-19 by the website’s founder, who told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that the pandemic could be stopped by bombs and killings.

Apter said on Friday that India’s lower number of cases was due to the country’s use of ivermectin, but there have been no solid reports linking ivermectin and a drop in cases in India.

A panelist named Dr. Mary Talley Bowden and Apter have been in a legal fight with the FDA over what the agency said about ivermectin during the pandemic. A lower court recently told them that their case could not go forward, but a federal appeals court recently overturned that ruling. Bowden said that they are now in the discovery process.

Bowden’s license was taken away, she quit her job at a hospital, and she has been the subject of many complaints.

Apter said there was a “worldwide coordinated agenda” behind the virus, the vaccine, and the reaction.

Some speakers were also very angry at hospitals and pharmacies. They said that hospitals shouldn’t have had a “single death” during the outbreak and that pharmacies were controlled by “Big Pharma.”

The group said that the antiviral drug remdesivir was unsafe and was the reason why people were dying in hospitals. Studies have shown that the drug has improved the chances of success for people with long-term COVID-19 and has helped treat the virus more quickly.

Bowden also talked about how she had sent up to 20 reports to pharmacists for not writing prescriptions for drugs like ivermectin. All of the complaints were thrown out.

Bowden said, “I would find other ways to, you know, encourage them to follow through.”

Bowden now runs a charity whose goal, she says, is to get leaders to promise to “ban the jab.”

The group all talked about the idea of banning the COVID-19 vaccines and remdesivir.

“Don’t get a COVID-19 shot. Shamp said, “We will eventually work together to get it taken off the market.” He also repeated a claim that patents were filed for COVID-19 in 2015, which is false by many sources. Later, Shamp told a lie when he said that patients could not get any information about the vaccine because the papers for it were left blank.

The committee also heard from Dr. Stephen Hale, who works in the Prescott area. Before he spoke, he said that the Veterans Administration, his boss, made him read a statement saying that his views and opinions are his own and do not represent the VA’s views.

There is no reason for anyone at all to get a COVID vaccine,” Hale told the committee. He also said that a paper in The Lancet that said hydroxychloroquine didn’t help treat the virus was a “hit piece” and “totally bogus.”

A plan that includes hydroxychloroquine and other drugs that have not been shown to effectively treat COVID was also pushed by McCullough and others. A study by McCullough is often used by people who say the process works to back it up.

Later research with much bigger sample sizes, on the other hand, found that McCoullough’s “protocol” and hydroxychloroquine did not work and did not affect treating COVID.

At Friday’s meeting, most of the time was spent going over claims that were made in the last two panels but have since been shown to be false.

Shamp came up with the idea for the committee and told the Senate leadership about it. She said she plans to hold another one later this year.

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