NEW: Perdue Compares Coronavirus Outbreak to Traffic Accidents: “A Certain Number of Us Will Die”

May 19, 2020

On a private call with business leaders, Perdue compares coronavirus to car accidents and admits more will die while pushing to reopen Georgia 

ATLANTA — Today, newly revealed comments by Senator David Perdue to Georgia business leaders include him comparing deaths from coronavirus to car accidents as “a certain number of us will die” from each while also repeating debunked talking points comparing one of the deadliest outbreaks of the last hundred years to “ordinary flu seasons.”

As Vox’s Katelyn Burns notes, the number of deaths in Georgia from coronavirus has already exceeded all deaths from car accidents in Georgia in 2018. And Perdue’s comments directly contradict public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci who’s previously said that comparing coronavirus to traffic accidents was “a false equivalency” and has also quashed claims that the virus is as bad as the flu, noting as early as March that it is at least “10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu.” Even President Donald Trump has previously “disputed” the comparison between traffic accidents and coronavirus.

Perdue’s comments only further confirm that Governor* Brian Kemp’s “reckless” and “irresponsible” prioritization of politics over Georgians’ health and safety will continue to put lives at risk — no matter what they want to say behind closed doors.

Read more about Perdue’s “false equivalency” on the coronavirus threat:

Vox: In leaked audio, Sen. David Perdue compares the risks of Covid-19 to car crashes

  • On a recent call with local business leaders, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) defended Georgia’s reopening process by comparing the risks of contracting Covid-19 to those of driving a car, indicating that calculating risk amounts to personal responsibility, according to a recording of the call obtained by Vox.
  • “We get in an automobile, we drive on our public roads, and a certain number of us will die on our public roads every year,” Perdue can be heard saying on the recording of a Zoom call with the Rome Floyd Chamber last Thursday.
  • Ironically, on the day of the call, the state of Georgia announced its 1,557th confirmed coronavirus death in the 15 weeks since the state’s first confirmed case, exceeding the 1,504 automobile deaths in the state in all of 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
  • Infectious disease experts have dismissed comparisons between the virus and automobile accidents. “I think that’s a false equivalency to compare traffic accidents with — I mean, that’s totally way out,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said on March 20.
  • The comparison to car crashes was not the only notable comment from the call. Perdue also repeated the conservative talking point that the death rate from Covid-19 compares to a bad flu season.
  • The comments made by Perdue, Trump, and other Republicans who prioritize reopening the economy over trying to get the disease under control miss the larger risk of spreading the virus to others before symptoms present. Even though Perdue wants a gradual reopening with precautions, experts say it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show, which muddies the risk calculations — and the ethics — Perdue referred to on the call.
  • The conflict between those wanting to get state economies going again and those wanting to keep the populace safe from the pandemic is starting to have political consequences. Georgia’s governor, Republican Brian Kemp, has been on the leading edge of the conservative charge to reopen states, and his approval rating has taken a noticeable dive in the process.
  • His coronavirus response approval rating sits at 39 percent, according to a recent Washington Post/Ipsos poll. It remains to be seen whether federal legislators who support reopening, like Perdue, will be celebrated or criticized for how they are managing the ongoing health crisis.


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