COVID-19 misinformation continues to spread among Tennessee lawmakers as Delta variant progresses

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and the Delta variant begin to spread with intensity, there are still some Tennessee lawmakers spreading misinformation about the virus.

Currently, Tennessee has just 39% of the population fully vaccinated, below the national average of 49.4% of U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated.

Doctors and medical experts say the misinformation is not helping when the state could be doing more.

“Imagine if we were all singing from the same page and seeing it from the same sheet of music, how much further along we will be,” Rep. Vincent Dixie, a Nashville Democrat said.

Misinformation continues to spread as members of the Tennessee General Assembly are returning back to work from battling COVID-19.

Republican leaders like Rep. Jeremy Faison are suggesting people should not listen to the science of masks or vaccinations.

The Speaker of the Tennessee House is blaming the CDC.

“I think the bigger message is you look at the CDC and see the misinformation that they put out, and how they’ve changed over the last 12 months, how they’ve been all over the map,” Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Cookeville Republican said.

The CDC reversed its mask guidance in recent days to reflect the danger they say the Delta variant presents for the unvaccinated, which includes children.

Speaker Sexton says ultimately, it’s the individual person’s choice. “I think there’s some states who are high and some low if you do look at some data. There’s people who say that states that are highly vaccinated have just as big of a problem than the states who are low unvaccinated right now with this new variant.”

However, Democrats are calling on the state’s leaders to step up.

“It’s only getting more dangerous. Yes, it is a personal decision, but we also need to make sure that we give people the right information so that they can make a good decision, not give them misinformation,” Dixie said.

Embattled Republican Representative David Byrd was released from the hospital Tuesday.

After eight months, a stint on a ventilator, and having a liver transplant, Byrd was finally sworn in after missing the entire 2021 legislative session.

“It’s great being able to go visit our grandbabies and just kind of get out on your own and not having to worry about laying in bed all day,” the Waynesboro Republican said.

Now, Rep. Byrd is asking people to “please consider” getting vaccinated.

Speaker Sexton is not revealing his vaccination status, saying it’s his “own personal information.”

Knoxville Democrat, Representative Gloria Johnson, released a statement saying:

“My colleagues across the aisle have likely listened to doctors their entire life, yet they are now relying on anecdotal evidence and social media propaganda as their basis for health policy. It’s embarrassing, but more importantly, this kind of misinformation will lead to some Tennesseans dying.”

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