Minnesota Sen. Scott Jensen, who is a medical doctor, appeared on Fox News to talk about how he's being investigated by the state medical board for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, claiming Gov. Tim Walz is actually the one spreading misinformation.
The Republican from Chaska briefly appeared on the cable TV network's "The Ingraham Angle" on Thursday night, speaking with host Laura Ingraham, who said he's found himself on the wrong side of the "medical mafia."
"You found legitimate flaws in the CDC's guidelines, now you're being targeted by your state's health board," Ingraham claimed in the opening segment.
Jensen then explained the situation, saying: "Basically, I'm being told that because I questioned the Department of Health and the CDC's communications that I'd been spreading misinformation. I think this is ludicrous."
"If you want to know who is spreading misinformation, if the governor comes out and tells Minnesotans they're going to have 74,000 deaths and then later reduces it 29,000 and then, later on, gives us another statistic and says in mid-July, which is next week, we're going to have 1,000 deaths per day, to me that would be more misinformation than me saying 'Hey listen, death certificates are a serious thing and we should be doing it right,'" Jensen added.
The state has released a few different coronavirus models from the University of Minnesota, which were based on infection rates and other information that was known at the time. The last one was released on May 13.
With Minnesota's death total currently approaching 1,500, it appears unlikely it will reach the 16,000 to 44,000 over the course of 12 months being projected by the University of Minnesota model. That said, another highly-cited model – from the Institute of Health Metrics – has previously underestimated the number of deaths in Minnesota.
While the U of M model has been used to inform the state's response to the coronavirus, Gov. Walz has said it's only one piece of data his administration takes into account when considering measures such as Stay at Home and the restaurant/bar shutdown.
Ingraham and Jensen then talked about National Institute of Health Director Dr. Anthony Fauci's comments in which he said the country can control COVID-19, but keeping it under control without a vaccine will be the problem, noting COVID-19 is "spectacularly efficient."
Jensen said Fauci is "fear mongering" with his use of "spectacularly," adding that since some RNA virus vaccines, like influenza vaccines, often have "terribly mediocre results." Because of this, Jensen says he thinks herd immunity will be needed to control the virus.
"If a vaccine comes along to help us, that's great, but we're far more realistically leaning into herd immunity," Jensen said.
Health officials have questioned whether natural herd immunity will work with COVID-19, though. According to the Mayo Clinic, "it isn't yet clear if infection with the virus makes a person immune to future infection."
He shared the news Sunday that he's being investigated by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, saying it is focusing on the "reckless advice" he gave by comparing COVID-19 with the flu, as well as comments he made on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for the completion of death certificates, which led to claims that Minnesota was inflating its COVID-19 death figures.
He posted again about death certificates on Facebook Friday, writing it's "unfortunate" the completion of death certificates for COVID-19 is so "muddied by conflicting advice from CDC, WHO, and public health departments."
"My perspective is that all people deserve to know of this incredibly ambiguous process put in place regarding the identification of the underlying cause of death," Jensen wrote.
The CDC's guidance to doctors in the early days of the pandemic, when testing wasn't widely available, was that it "would be acceptable" to list COVID-19 on a death certificate as "probable" or "presumed" in the absence of a positive test if "the circumstances are compelling within a reasonable degree of certainty," but ultimately would leave it up to doctors to make their best judgment.
Jensen's initial comments on the subject were made to Fargo-based news host, Chris Berg, who tweeted the suggestion – without evidence – that Minnesota was inflating its death totals. Jensen also raised the possibility that doctors would class deaths as being from COVID-19 in order to receive greater reimbursements from Medicare.
Minnesota doesn't include deaths listed as "probable" or "suspected" as being from COVID-19 in its overall death figures. It parses them out separately, with there currently being 38 "probable" COVID-19 deaths on top of the 1,495 (as of Friday) deaths that have been confirmed by a positive test.
Jensen said he will cooperate with the medical board's investigation, but he's "ticked" about it, adding that "If this could happen to me because of my views, it could happen to anybody."
Jensen, who is in his first term in the Minnesota Senate, is retiring at the end of his term. He is rumored to be considering a run for Minnesota governor as a Republican.