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COVID-19 skeptics speak in first day of special hearings at AZ Capitol

A special committee to investigate the government’s response to COVID-19 held its first day of hearings at the Arizona Capitol on Thursday. The all-Republican committee is hosting  speakers known for embracing conspiracy theories and spreading misinformation about the virus.

Citing anecdotal evidence, and without hearing from any Arizona hospital leaders, speakers called into question health care system practices during the pandemic.

Dr. Peter McCullough, a Texas cardiologist who has promoted vaccine skepticism in numerous appearances on right-wing media, spoke Thursday about hospitals denying patients ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine — two drugs that have been widely debunked as COVID-19 treatments.

“People have the right to receive individualized, considerate and respectful care and that is something that I think is the crux of what didn’t happen,” said Republican state Sen. Janae Shamp during the all-day hearing.  

Shamp, who says she lost her job as a nurse for refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, is chairing the committee. Sen. T.J. Shope and Rep. Steve Montenegro are also on the committee. Arizona Congressmen Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs and Eli Crane are not attending the hearings but contributed video messages in support of the committee's work. 

The hearings are scheduled to continue Friday.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent. She has produced work for NPR, New England Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, PRI's The World, Washington Post, Reuters and more.She has a master’s degree in radio journalism from the USC Annenberg School of Journalism.She lives in central Phoenix with her husband, two daughters, and ill-behaved cat and dog. Her side-passions include photography, crosswords and hot sauce.