Sen. Scott Jensen

Sen. Scott Jensen

Following several months of publicity around State Sen. Scott Jensen’s (R-Chaska) stance on Minnesota’s COVID-19 response, the family physician is back in the spotlight.

Jensen, who isn’t running for re-election, said in a video he is being investigated by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice for allegations of “spreading misinformation” regarding comments on COVID-19 death certificates on a news program in April, and providing “reckless advice” comparing COVID-19 and the flu.

The board could not confirm the investigation or share any information, citing confidentiality, according to Executive Director Ruth Martinez.

Jensen posted a Facebook video Sunday, which he called “one of the most important videos” he’s made.

“When I got this letter, I was ticked,” he said in the video, adding he’s been a doctor for about four decades and in the senate for four years. “I’ve never had anything like this happen.”

Jensen said he spent several days preparing a response to the investigation. In the post, Jensen said was “stunned” by the investigation, but “should have seen it coming.”

FLU VERSUS COVID

“They didn’t like it that I was trying to provide some context for the flu, for COVID-19,” he said in the video.

He compared influenza case numbers from two years ago with virus data from today.

“When I say that, am I recklessly giving advice regarding COVID-19 and the flu?” he posted.

When asked to respond to criticism over his comparison of flu and COVID-19, Jensen said he keeps up on coronavirus news and realizes there is no vaccine for COVID-19. He said though there are vaccines for the flu, it’s not always effective.

In an interview, Jensen said “the numbers are really difficult to get a hold of” in regards to COVID-19 fatalities and that it’s reasonable to compare the two viruses.

“What if I compared Tylenol to ibuprofen? Would that have been reckless? I don’t know,” Jensen said, in the interview.

In the video post, Jensen went on to say he wasn’t spreading misinformation and wasn’t being reckless when comparing influenza and the coronavirus. He said they have similar symptoms and both spread through the respiratory system.

A recently-updated CDC webpage states the flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, but have similar symptoms. But if a person has the coronavirus, it could take longer for symptoms to develop and they could be contagious longer.

The CDC also said COVID-19 is more contagious for certain ages and can “superspread” more easily than the flu. There is no vaccine for COVID-19, while there are multiple for flu strains.

DATA

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document released in April, physicians can report COVID-19 on a death certificate as “probable” or “presumed” if a definite diagnosis can’t be made, assuming it’s suspected or likely.

“In these instances, certifiers should use their best clinical judgment in determining if a COVID–19 infection was likely. However, please note that testing for COVID–19 should be conducted whenever possible,” the document states.

In the video, Jensen added he didn’t trust state-released numbers of how many people died from COVID-19. He said doctors could falsely report patients had died of COVID-19 under current health guidelines.

“I said, ‘I’m not buying 74,000 Minnesotans dying. I’m not buying 29,000,’” he said in the video.

“And I’m ‘spreading misinformation.’ Of course I am,” he said sarcastically. “I don’t know what to tell you. I just know this is wrong. We’re in a bad place.”

He said he believes some patients aren’t suffering from COVID-19 and are misdiagnosed in their death certificates.

“When that patient dies of pneumonia, it’s a COVID-19 death,” he said in the video. “I cried foul.”

In the interview, Jensen said he has confidence the state will report accurate numbers from now on.

“When they report their numbers now, I think we can say, ‘Yeah, those are real deaths. Those are real COVID-19 deaths.’”

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