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My concern with these kinds of comments and the misinformation that we have out there is the way it’s undermining the trust in science and our healthcare systems at the very time we need our people and our communities to have accurate information and ways to protect themselves” –Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc, CHER director and Kenan Distinguished Professor of Social Medicine and Internal Medicine.

The United States has recently reached its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day with over 80,000 new cases reported on Friday, October 23rd. Ali Velshi, MSNBC journalist and host of the Velshi Across America 2020 series, along with Dr. Corbie-Smith address the misinformation and politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of COVID-19 in North Carolina during an interview on Sunday, October 25th.

[Video Transcript]

Ali Velshi: Here’s what’s going on the country: on Friday, there were more than 80,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States. 80,000–that’s the highest daily number of infections since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic on March 11th.

Joining me now: Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith, Professor of Internal and Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She is also the Director of the UNC Center for Health Equity Research. Doctor, thank you for joining me.

I wanna just tell you something that the president said last night. He said that, “doctors get more money if they say a patient with cancer or heart problems died of COVID.” Now–thank god I got my health–but if I had cancer or if I had a heart disease and I went outside and I got hit by a car, I would die as a result of the car accident. The fact that I had cancer was not the cause of death; and that is the same thing with COVID-19. If you got heart problems or you got cancer, but you died of COVID-19, you actually died of COVID-19.

Giselle Corbie-Smith: I mean, that is the case. My concern with these kinds of comments and the misinformation that we have out there is the way it’s undermining the trust in science and our health care systems at the very time where we need our people and communities to have accurate information and ways to protect themselves.

Ali Velshi: But it doesn’t happen, and I’m sure you experience this as much as I do: there are people who, for political reasons, support Donald Trump–whatever their reasons for doing so are–and they start to believe this stuff. I’ve had people tell me that the problem with COVID is, there’s one political party trying to shut this country down and Donald Trump wants to reopen it.

So, the debate over the public health side–the debate that you are in, the things that you and your colleagues speak about everyday–as we’ve seen at the CDC, is being sidelined for political reasons.

Giselle Corbie-Smith: Yeah, I mean that’s the tragedy in this pandemic, is how it’s been politicized. The reality is we know what works–we know washing your hands, wearing your mask and, you know, social distancing works–and those are the things we need to be focusing on in terms of prevention. It’s a distraction, unfortunately, the politicization.

Health care providers, public health officials, our patient, our communities–we’re all starting to get fatigue–pandemic fatigue. And the reality is we need to keep doing what we know works.

Ali Velshi: And I think this is important, what you said. I mean, the president said, “all the media talks about is COVID, COVID, COVID, and they’ll stop talking about it after November 3rd.”

We guarantee that we will not stop talking about it after November 3rd, but this should be an interesting to get COVID fatigue when we are seeing a record number of new infections daily, a spike in three-quarters (3/4) of the country including here in the Carolinas where we are, in excess of coming close to a thousand deaths a day. We may be in the middle of this thing when most people would’ve thought several weeks ago that we were closer to the end.

Giselle Corbie-Smith: Yeah, this is, you know–some would say this is our third wave now. And just at the moment where we’re all starting to be wary of the kinds of things that we need to do for protection, we’re seeing this uptip, and much earlier than we would’ve thought–and this is actually quite worrisome. But these are the things we need to do. I mean, this is what we as American people can do to protect ourselves, to protect our families, to protect our communities, and to protect each other–we need to wear masks, we need to wash our hands, we need the social distancing. They’re relatively simple things, but it allows the rest of us as health care professionals and public health officials to focus on the places where we need to be focused on. As we go into the winter months, it’s likely that we’ll continue to see this increase and we’re certainly seeing it in North Carolina.

Ali Velshi: Well, thank you to you, doctor and to all those like you across the country. Our health care workers and first responders and epidemiologists and people working on cures and vaccines for us, we are grateful to you. Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith is the Director for the UNC Center for Health Equity Research.