Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania's Republican Speaker of the House, was widely criticized online this past weekend for a tweet which seemed to suggest the state was safe to reopen because most people who would die are already sick.
Turzai tweeted an infographic showing the pre-existing conditions of those who have died from the virus.
The image was part of his campaign for "Reopening Pennsylvania."
https://t.co/SqhMB4Rej0— Speaker Mike Turzai (@Speaker Mike Turzai)1589033148.0
Many online interpreted Turzai's post as a signal that the state should re-open, since only people with those conditions would be at risk (which is also incorrect).
@RepTurzai 1/3 of Pennsylvanians have high blood pressure. Should 1/3 be ready to die because you’re all incompeten… https://t.co/aOCJQJ4719— Alex Leo (@Alex Leo)1589059509.0
@RepTurzai Well that escalated quickly... https://t.co/1GvCE6gWI7— Iridescent Ashes (@Iridescent Ashes)1589037885.0
Multiple Twitter users wondered what else Turzai could possibly mean.
@RepTurzai Are you trying to say people with pre-existing conditions should die so you can go to Denny's, Mike? Ca… https://t.co/BfnBlagIop— Brian, the unforecasted storm (@Brian, the unforecasted storm)1589059087.0
@RepTurzai So you see death from covid-19 as a way of reducing the incidence of chronic health conditions in PA. Is… https://t.co/xklWIZp8K5— Hartmann the Anarchist (@Hartmann the Anarchist)1589063804.0
@RepTurzai Gotta love GOP eugenics.— Lucy Kwiatek (@Lucy Kwiatek)1589059224.0
Turzai's Chief of Staff told Huffpost the Speaker was "simply reporting public health data that the Pennsylvania Department of Health should be reporting to the public, but is not."
But it certainly didn't seem that way to most people who saw the post.
@jwbussmann @RepTurzai https://t.co/aSsHGg1JdW— Rebecca Lynn (@Rebecca Lynn)1589054251.0
@RepTurzai Please stop arguing that if you've got health issues & pre-existing conditions your life is somehow less… https://t.co/qHjL84JaDz— Nicole 🌼🌼🌼 (@Nicole 🌼🌼🌼)1589054480.0
@RepTurzai I fixed it for ya, Mike. https://t.co/YUyVTvtF8S— Tell Gov Wolf: restore $ to PA Council on the Arts (@Tell Gov Wolf: restore $ to PA Council on the Arts)1589040338.0
The conditions that Turzai mentioned in his tweet are not rare among Americans.
@RepTurzai So, you’re saying people with these issues are expendable? In PA, almost 4 million people have hyperten… https://t.co/PYgeziNNcv— Vito Quaglia (@Vito Quaglia)1589033900.0
@RepTurzai These people had health issues that they struggled with, and lived with!, for many years until coronavir… https://t.co/3H8KOeTpfS— Jeremy Wilcox (@Jeremy Wilcox)1589062179.0
Pennsylvania Republicans such as Turzai have long fought to protect life in all its forms, but apparently this is where they draw the line.
Last year, Turzai literally compared abortion-rights advocates to Nazis practicing eugenics and now he is saying CO… https://t.co/LyjUI2jtXa— Ryan Deto (@Ryan Deto)1588859003.0
This is far from the first time Turzai has put his foot in his mouth when it comes to the global pandemic.
In this video, PA Speaker of the House Mike Turzai says that schools should reopen because“kids can development her… https://t.co/cfOYDllJqr— Daniel Jacobson (@Daniel Jacobson)1589074931.0
@Dan_F_Jacobson They're doing wonderful things with brain transplants. Turzai should look into getting one.— Bernard Silverman (@Bernard Silverman)1589078789.0
@Dan_F_Jacobson This is the person running in Turzai's district. Please support her. https://t.co/pRyNZmkWqA— John Craig Hammond (@John Craig Hammond)1589079895.0
Pennsylvania's reported death toll had already risen to 582 by the time Turzai posted his tweet, with health experts warning that cases of the virus could spike if proper precautions are not taken as states reopen.
Hopefully Turzai takes these warnings seriously for the sake of his citizens—even those with hypertension.