The conspiracies show no signs of slowing down; Movie claims Covid is a venom, not a virus

In other pandemic news, Mississippi enacted a law that bans covid vaccination mandates, Oakland will reconsider having a mask mandate for large indoor gatherings, and more.

PolitiFact: Fact check: COVID-19 is snake venom, claims anti-vax documentary

A new anti-vaccine documentary ridiculously claims that the coronavirus is not a virus, but a synthetic version of snake venom that the forces of evil spread through remdesivir, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and drinking water to “make you a hybrid of Satan”. The 48-minute film, released on April 11, is the latest in an expanding genre of mega-viral conspiracy-laden videos made in the mold of the May 2020 “Plandemic” video. Its title, “Watch the Water” , is a nod to a favorite QAnon conspiracy theory refrain, which centers around the belief that a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles runs a global sex trafficking ring. (McCarthy, 04/22)

NPR: How deadly COVID conspiracy theories cost a woman her life

One thing everyone agrees on is that Stephanie didn’t have to die. Even months after it happened, her family is struggling to understand why. “There is no perfect puzzle piece,” says Laurie, Stephanie’s daughter. “I literally go through this all the time.” Stephanie was 75 when she succumbed to COVID-19 last December. But Laurie says it wasn’t just COVID that killed her mother. In the years leading up to her death, Stephanie found herself embroiled in conspiracy theories. Her belief in these outlandish ideas led her to avoid vaccinations and caused her to delay and even refuse some of the most effective treatments after falling ill. “I don’t believe she was supposed to die,” Laurie said. “I blame misinformation.” (Brumfiel, 04/24)

In news about vaccine mandates —

AP: New Mississippi law prohibits COVID-19 vaccination mandates

Mississippi enacts a new law that says state and local government agencies cannot suspend services or deny jobs to people who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The ban applies to state agencies, city and county governments and schools, community colleges and universities. COVID-19 vaccination mandates have not been widespread in Mississippi, but some lawmakers have said they are acting against the possibility of government overreach. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves said Friday he signed House Bill 1509, and it became law immediately. (Petus, 04/23)

Cincinnati Enquirer: COVID-19: Here’s how UC students and staff avoided the vaccination mandate

On November 1, two months after the University of Cincinnati announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all students, staff, and faculty, a student wrote to the school quoting 1 Corinthians 6:19 of the Bible. “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the holy spirit which is in you, which you have received from God? You are not yourself. That God is in you. That he is our healer. The student, whose name was redacted from one of 72 exemption request forms obtained by The Enquirer through Ohio’s Public Records Act, wrote that he had “sincere and genuine beliefs ” who “prohibit” getting vaccinated against COVID-19. “I have decided to place my trust in God,” the student wrote. (Mitchell, 04/25)

Bloomberg: NYC suspends school staff for allegedly using fake vaccine IDs

The New York City Department of Education has suspended about 70 employees for allegedly using fake vaccination cards, the teachers’ union said. The department placed the employees on unpaid leave with benefits, effective April 25, and the New York School District Special Commissioner of Investigations and law enforcement are investigating the incident. (Querolo, 04/22)

San Francisco Chronicle: Truck convoy protests outside East Bay lawmaker’s home proposing vaccination mandate, abortion bills

A group of people who oppose vaccination mandates drove their trucks and vans through the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland and protested outside the home of an East Bay state legislator while she was believed to be in inside. The protest, captured in online videos, involved a convoy of about 20 vehicles, according to the California Highway Patrol. Protesters apparently rallied against a pair of bills drafted by Assemblyman Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, that would, separately, require California companies to mandate COVID vaccinations among their employees and end a requirement of the state that coroners investigate stillbirths. Wicks already announced in late March that the vaccination bill was on hold. (Cano, 04/23)

Los Angeles Times: How many lives in California have been saved with COVID-19 vaccines?

The arrival of the first COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020 marked the start of a new, safer phase of the pandemic. For all we know about life in the age of vaccines — the inequalities, the breakthrough infections, the partisan battles over mandates — it’s been hard to know what life would have been like without vaccines. A new project by UC San Francisco researchers in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health paints the clearest picture yet of what the state might have looked like if vaccines had never happened. materialized. (Purtill, 04/22)

On mask mandates —

San Francisco Chronicle: Oakland plans to mandate masking for 1,000-person indoor events

An Oakland City Council member will introduce an ordinance next month that requires people to wear masks at large indoor gatherings of 1,000 people or more. The ordinance will remove the city’s current requirement that people show proof of a vaccine to enter bars, restaurants, gyms and other businesses. People will still need to show proof of vaccination when entering senior centers and assisted care facilities. (Ravani, 04/22)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Fulton County parents file lawsuit against school district

Parents who sued the Fulton County School Board over the district’s former mask mandate recently dropped their case after a new state law rendered the legal battle moot. Atlanta attorney Ray S. Smith III, who represents the 11 families who sued the district, filed a motion last week in the Georgia Court of Appeals to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit. He cited legislation signed by Governor Brian Kemp last month that gives parents the ability to remove their children from school mask mandates for the next five years. (McCray, 04/25)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news outlets. Sign up for an email subscription.

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