The usual suspects are at it again. Right-wing commentators and political operatives have taken to social media, spreading rumors that Jill Biden’s positive COVID test is part of a nefarious plan to make everyone vote by mail and return to lockdowns ahead of the 2024 election.
These wild, fact-free theories are bouncing around despite the fact that the first lady is hardly an outlier in contracting COVID; hospitalizations for the virus are up 93 percent over the last three months, according to the CDC.
Eric Spacklen, a former spokesperson for Project Veritas, tweeted that the first lady’s positive test was “all part of the plan” and implied that the “plan” is to get Americans back in masks.
Others went even further. Kyle Becker, a former Fox News producer turned podcaster, shared a clip from ABC’s The View, noting that host Whoopi Goldberg did not appear Tuesday morning since she has tested positive for COVID.
“First Jill Biden, now Whoopi has Covid. This is how they’re priming America to bring back Covid lockdowns for the election, Becker wrote. “Everything is a script.”
“They're prepping you for ‘the need for mail in ballots' in 2024,” conservative blogger Collin Rugg tweeted, “It’s happening again.”
Former President Donald Trump spent years stoking fear over mail-in ballots, making numerous false claims that Democrats could use the system to “steal” the election. This latest round of rumors are new iterations of the same conspiracy theory: that the Biden administration will reintroduce strict COVID measures and enforce mail-in voting in order to rig the 2024 election.
“The left-wing lunatics are trying very hard to bring back COVID lockdowns and mandates with their sudden fear-mongering about the new variants that are coming,” Trump said in a video posted to social media on Aug. 30, “They want to restart the COVID hysteria so they can justify more lockdowns, more censorship, more illegal dropboxes, more mail-in ballots.”
The misinformation around Jill Biden’s positive COVID test comes as many state Republican lawmakers are trying to prevent further mask mandates or COVID-prevention measures, despite the current uptick.
U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) introduced the “Freedom to Breathe Act” on Tuesday, legislation aimed at preventing the federal government or commercial airlines from introducing mask requirements, Fox News reported.
In Texas, a law went into effect on Sept. 1 banning local governments from introducing new COVID safety measures like mask mandates, vaccine mandates, or lockdowns.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds also released a statement last week saying constituents had been calling her office asking if any restrictions would be implemented in the state due to rising COVID cases.
“My answer—not on my watch,” Reynolds said, “I rejected the mandates and lockdowns of 2020, and my position has not changed.”
The newest COVID variant, BA286, has been detected in five states: Texas, Ohio, New York, Michigan, and Virginia, according to ABC News. On Sept. 12, the CDC’s advisory committee will meet to discuss new boosters for COVID variants heading into the fall.