Fiore plays in dirt

Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore at a council meeting Sept. 2, 2020. (Screenshot from KCLV)

Here is a false, discredited and despicable thing disgraceful Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore recklessly trumpeted Wednesday.

“One of the things that we don’t report,” Fiore said during a council meeting, “is that the thousand deaths that we have had here in the state of Nevada, CDC’s reports were 6 percent, out of the hundred percent, were from COVID, and the other 94 percent had major underlying conditions that contributed to their death.”

“So,” Fiore continued, her disinformation dial set to turbo, “what we’re telling people is ‘Look, a thousand people died from COVID,’ which, that’s not what the CDC is saying now. The CDC is saying because of their underlying conditions, they died.”

To reiterate, Fiore argle-bargled that out loud Wednesday. By which time the only other people who still believed it may have dwindled to her and QAnon.

If you missed it, first, congratulations, you’re probably not on social media and the rest of us are jealous, but second, there was a viral meme on the internet last weekend contending that 94 percent of people who are listed as dying of COVID really didn’t, because they died of something else.

It would be nice to think the horribly wrong claim was the result of honestly misinterpreting what the Centers for Disease Control reported, and not a deliberate falsification of information trumped up to appeal to anti-maskers and others who want to stick it to facts and medical science to trigger the libs.

Alas, since Fiore is spreading it, we should assume it’s the latter.

For the record, in a weekly COVID report under a “comorbidities” sub-heading, the CDC said for 6 percent of the deaths, “COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

No. That does not mean 94 percent of COVID deaths were not due to COVID.

It means that people dying of COVID without having or developing additional conditions is really rare.

It means, again quoting the CDC, “For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.” (I added the italics just in case Fiore is reading.)

The CDC lists a lot of additional, contributing causes — including respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and obesity. That makes sense if, unlike Fiore, you think about it: One thing that has been said about coronavirus pretty consistently from the start is that people with underlying conditions are the most vulnerable.

And as you personally may have seen (condolences), people languishing on their deathbeds commonly have multiple ailments going on.

But that doesn’t mean somebody who had diabetes as an underlying condition died from that and not COVID.

As one infectious disease expert put it to The Associated Press, “If it hadn’t been for the COVID virus infection, these people would be living today. … So yes, although they have contributing underlying chronic health factors, it’s still the COVID virus that killed them.”

You’d think given a moment to consider the facts, someone who has described herself as a “CEO” of a home health care company might have some familiarity with the relationship between immediate and contributing or underlying causes of death.

And you’d think an elected official during a pandemic would take her public position and public responsibility seriously enough to refrain from regurgitating information that is not only demonstrably (and by Wednesday, infamously) wrong, but that also endangers her constituents by encouraging them to disregard the risk of a pandemic.

But that’s what Fiore did. And not just once.

Fiore was speaking to Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a former Speaker of the Nevada Assembly. Kirkpatrick has long been highly regarded by government and elected officials and advocacy and interest organizations, regardless of party, for a tireless work ethic, an attention to detail, and an accompanying grasp of facts, information and policy. And she’s not a headline-hunter.

In other words, Kirkpatrick is pretty much the exact opposite of Fiore.

Kirkpatrick was pleading to the Las Vegas City Council Wednesday to stop looking the other way while “bad actor” businesses host coronavirus superspreader events, er, large gatherings where social distancing protocols and the mask mandate are ignored. Join us in a “comprehensive business enforcement” plan, Kirkpatrick urged.

You’d think a city council wouldn’t need to be nudged to protect their constituents so as to contain the virus and do everything possible to help the economy revive safely and sustainably. But remember, the council is headed by a person who made the national spotlight that one time for use of the phrase “control group.”

Fiore delivered her dangerously wrong remarks quoted at the top of this column after Kirkpatrick’s initial presentation. Later in the meeting, as Kirkpatrick was fielding questions from council members, Fiore got another chance to act out.

“I just again implore you guys to talk about the positiveness,” Fiore said. “COVID has, basically 6 percent of the United States folks have died from COVID. Ninety-four percent have died because they had major underlying conditions. And I think that message has to be told to our people because COVID is a killer of everything, the economy as well.”

If Fiore does not know the 6 percent solution she’s spreading is a falsehood, she’s willfully ignorant and incompetent. If she knows, but is spreading it anyway to sate her passion for pop ideology performance art, she’s putting people, including and especially her supporters and fans who take her seriously, at risk.

Either way she’s a disgrace.

That’s not news or anything. While first rising to a modest but ultimately calendar-selling measure of fringe right-wing notoriety years ago by proclaiming cancer a fungus that could be flushed out with salt water, to waving away the need to test homeless people by saying “let them play in dirt” Wednesday, and countless times in between, Fiore routinely disgraces herself and whatever public position she’s in. Sometimes she’s racist. Sometimes she’s abusing her office. Almost always she’s tiresome. And sometimes she’s a miserable public health threat.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.