A congressman from the northernmost state in the Union told seniors last week they had nothing to worry about coronavirus infecting them, calling such concerns “overblown” during an event last week.
“They call it the coronavirus. I call it the beer virus. How do you like that?” Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, said on Friday.
Young tried to reassure seniors there was nothing to worry over, appealing to them because, as he put it, “I’m one of you.” Young is 86 years old.
“I still say we have to as a nation and state go forth with everyday activities,” Young said, thwarting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing during the disease’s spread.
— The Hill (@thehill) March 19, 2020
Young also told those in attendance that coronavirus is “not nearly as deadly as the other viruses we have.” However, that’s a misleading statement: while more people get the flu, and thus more in terms of raw numbers die from it than do coronavirus, those who catch the flu actually have a smaller chance of dying than do those who get infected with COVID-19.
The rate of death for those who catch the flu is around 0.1 percent. The rate of those dying from coronavirus is closer to 3 percent, if they contract the disease.
Perhaps to further demonstrate his indifference to the disease, Young opted out of voting on a paid medical leave bill passed by Congress this week. According to Newsweek, Young decided it was more important for him to attend a National Rifle Association meeting in his home state than to vote on the package.
Alaska Rep. Don Young, who called coronavirus the "beer virus," attended NRA fundraiser after skipping House COVID-19 relief fund votehttps://t.co/YKa0yoGPdR
— Adrienne Cobb (@ImagineWorldas1) March 19, 2020
President Donald Trump signed the bill into law shortly after it reached his desk.
Young has made other controversial statements and actions in the past. He has a nasty habit, for example, of physically pushing female reporters, and he’s also made headlines in the past for snidely remarking that wolves could help with Alaska’s homeless population problems.
Chris Walker is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, who focuses on news, politics, and analysis of world events. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, since 2005 Chris has reported on workers’ rights protests in Wisconsin, opined on four separate presidential elections and written on a number of other political subjects for a variety of national online publications.