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COVID-19 conspiracy theories continue in second day of hearings at Arizona Capitol

A group of doctors  known for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 spoke in a second day of special hearings at the Arizona Capitol on Friday. Speakers continued to outline a litany of conspiracy theories about the pandemic before an all-Republican committee.

During the day-long proceedings, panelists continued to lament that more COVID-19 patients were not given access to disproven treatments, like horse dewormers or antimalarial drugs. And they repeated false claims that COVID-19 vaccines are not safe or effective. According to the  Arizona Department of Health Services, unvaccinated people are 15 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are up-to-date with vaccines. 

Panelists also alleged that hospitals and public health agencies nationwide suppressed data or manipulated information about the virus for profit. The committee did not hear from any Arizona health care industry leaders or public health officials. 

“I just find it very interesting that we aren’t talking about that more. I mean we do have the conversation ‘died of COVID’ or ‘died with COVID,’ but the data needs to be analyzed,” said state Sen. Janae Shamp during Friday's hearing. 

Shamp, who says she lost her job as a nurse for refusing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, is chairing the committee. The other committee members are Sen. T.J. Shope and Rep. Steve Montenegro. They plan to submit a report based on this week's hearings to legislative leadership by the end of this year.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.