Bloomington school board member touts dubious COVID-19 treatments as one of the reasons why kids should return to school

The treatments featured in a Breitbart News video that was banned from social media for featuring false information.
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As she argued for kids to return to in-person classes this fall, a Bloomington Public Schools board member cited treatments for COVID-19 that featured in a viral video that was banned from social media sites, and have been widely debunked by medical experts.

Beth Beebe, the treasurer for ISD 271, made the comments during a special school board meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, which comes after Gov. Tim Walz gave power to school districts to make the decision on how school returns in the fall amid the ongoing pandemic.

In her comments, she argued for a return at the very least to a hybrid schooling model – a mixture of in-person instruction and distance learning – and in doing so mentioned some of the "success" doctors were having treating COVID-19.

"There are doctors who are treating patients for COVID-19 and are having success rates, they are treating them with azithromycin and zinc, and some other medications, but the media is not wanting you to hear that either, but it's happening," she said.

Azithromycin and zinc were two of the treatments touted alongside hydroxychloroquine by a group of 10 doctors – none of whom have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 treatment, it has subsequently been found – in a controversial video published by far-right website Breitbart News last month.

One doctor referred to hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax (a brand name for azithromycin) as "the cure" for COVID-19, saying: "You don't need masks."

After initially going viral and being shared by President Donald Trump, the video was banned by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for violating their respective policies on false information.

Beebe's comments attracted the attention of parents following the live feed of the meeting.

Health bodies recommend against hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin for COVID-19

The National Institute of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization are among the public health bodies that recommend against the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment, as clinical trials have found it to be ineffective in treating and preventing the virus.

The NIH also recommends against the combination of hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin to treat COVID-19 "because of the potential for toxicities."

And while there is no guidance for azithromycin on its own, the Minnesota Department of Health notes that it's an antibiotic, not an antiviral, and while it has some anti-inflammatory properties, "our medical specialists are not aware of any evidence in favor of its use specifically for COVID-19."

As for zinc, MDH cites National Institute for Health guidance that there is "insufficient evidence for or against zinc as a therapy and does not recommend administering it in doses higher than would be used for daily supplementation."

Beebe argued that kids should return to school for their emotional and mental wellbeing, and also said that the school board should consider the age of people dying from COVID-19 and the conditions of those who contract it as they make a decision. 

Children are typically less at risk from COVID-19 compared to adults and particularly the elderly, but there remains concern that an outbreak in schools could see teachers and staff fall ill, and also students pass on the virus to family members.

BMTN has reached out to Beebe for further comment. You can watch her comments here, starting at the 9:00 mark.

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