Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on Friday night urged Americans to “throw your mask away” if they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine or were previously infected with the virus. But a wide of swath of critics on social media instead ridiculed the GOP lawmaker and demanded he stop giving public health advice on national television.
Paul ridiculed Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a Friday Fox News appearance, and blasted any public health expert who is in favor of continued pandemic “lockdowns.”
The GOP senator, who is also an ophthalmologist, said it “defies the science” that some doctors are telling people to keep social distancing or wearing masks after receiving the vaccine or having had COVID-19 in the past. Physicians including Fauci have reiterated for months that vaccines are “not going to be a light switch” and that no vaccination provides 100 percent protection.
Paul told Fox News viewers that lockdown measures and masks have not “done anything” to slow the virus trajectory and Americans should tell Fauci to “take a leap.”
“Throw your mask away and tell these so-called experts who say lockdowns work to take a flying leap because there is no scientific evidence the lockdowns have done anything to change the trajectory of this virus,” the senator told Fox News.
Critics immediately pounced on Paul’s controversial coronavirus claims.
“Rand Paul is the example of how dangerous it is to have people in positions of authority who speak loudly but have no clue what they’re talking about. He thinks he is profound for telling folks don’t wear masks, but hear me…He doesn’t know what the hell he is taking about,” tweeted Charles Booker, a former Democratic Kentucky Senate candidate, in response to Paul’s Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham.
Attorney Max Kennerly noted that Paul is up for re-election in Kentucky in 2022, and he urged vaccine developers including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) not to donate to Paul’s political campaign.
“How about we keep the masks and throw away Rand Paul instead,” replied FanSided founder and progressive entrepreneur Adam Best.
“Rand Paul also recommends smoking in bed,” wrote commentator and television personality John Fugelsang.
“Can you imagine booking appointment to see Dr. Rand Paul & listening to him diagnose you with something – then saying to him: you don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s essentially what he is saying,” tweeted CBS correspondent David Begnaud.
“Dear@RandPaul; Stop telling people not to wear a mask. Even if someone is vaccinated, they still need to wear a mask. #WearAMaskSaveAlife,” tweeted Linda Girgis, family M.D. and head editor of Physician’s Weekly.
Paul has for months said there is “no science” to corroborate mask mandates which are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and countless physicians across the globe. CDC recommendations call for a combination of being both vaccinated and following social distancing guidelines.
Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies that worked to develop the vaccine produced research in November, showing the two-shot vaccination process is at least 90 percent effective but that mild illness remains possible. Richard Watkins, M.D., infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, advised recently that “the vaccine will likely make COVID-19 infections less severe,” but won’t eliminate risk entirely.
On Friday, Paul highlighted a Stanford University study conducted in 10 different countries that found “the mandatory lockdowns did no better than voluntary suggestions” in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Last month, the Kentucky senator told Breitbart News that “there’s no science to keeping schools … and keeping restaurants closed.” He claimed mandates to wear masks in public are only about one thing—”submission” to government authority.
As of Saturday, there have been more than 23 million cases and over 393,000 deaths in the U.S. related to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracker.
Newsweek reached out to Paul’s Senate office for comment.