RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina lawmaker whose email to every member of the General Assembly was found to be full of misinformation about COVID-19 emphatically refused Thursday to answer questions about it.
“I don’t do interviews,” Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said repeatedly when CBS 17 asked him about it.
The 616-word email was the subject of a CBS 17 Fact Check earlier this week, prompting Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuk of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine to call it a “threat to public health.”
CBS 17 made numerous attempts to contact Pittman after obtaining the email in question, emailing him twice since last week, calling both phone numbers listed for him on his official NCGA website and stopping by his office at the legislative building Monday afternoon.
No one answered, and CBS 17 did not receive a response.
Pittman was at the General Assembly on Thursday for the convening of the session.
When CBS 17 asked him for an interview, he said “I don’t do interviews” three times while walking away — pointedly punctuating every word during his third answer— before heading down a hallway and a staircase.
In the email, Pittman wrote that vaccines are killing “a lot (of) people” but that it is being downplayed, that masks can’t stop the virus from getting through, that air escapes around the mask, that the RNA in the vaccines causes recipients’ bodies to “create the ‘virus,’” and that it is not a vaccine after all.
The CBS 17 Fact Check found none of those claims to be true.
Misinformation about COVID-19 continues to be a problem. According to reports Thursday, police accused a Maryland man of killing his brother, a pharmacist who administered the vaccine, of “killing people with the COVID shot.”
“I think what we’re seeing here is that the COVID vaccine is highly, highly politicized, and therefore very polarizing,” Malchuk said. “This is something that I’ve personally never seen in my lifetime. Speaking with older colleagues, even older community members, they’ve never seen something like this in their lifetime, where protecting somebody’s health is such a political issue.
“When will it end? When will the misinformation stop being spread?” She asked. “I mean, truthfully, I don’t know. I think the evidence is there that shows that these vaccines are not only safe, but they’re effective. And they really are saving lives. So I’m not sure what other proof other people may need.”
CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.