Michigan GOP gov. candidate Soldano says kids should get COVID-19 ‘naturally’

Republican says he’s not vaccinated, discourages help from doctors

By: - February 23, 2022 11:56 am

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GOP gubernatorial candidate Garrett Soldano is once again stirring up controversy with his comments on the campaign trail, this time by spreading misinformation about COVID-19, discouraging people to go to the doctor and encouraging supporters to “let the kids get [COVID] naturally.”

The liberal news site Heartland Signal first reported on Soldano’s remarks Monday, via audio provided to the site by an anonymous Democratic source.

Soldano, one of 13 Republicans running in the August primary to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, told supporters at a Feb. 10 meet-and-greet event in Flint that he is unvaccinated and falsely believes that COVID-19 only kills people who were already unhealthy or overweight.

Soldano also downplayed the severity of the virus that has now infected more than 2,045,840 Michiganders and killed upwards of 31,383 residents. Nationally, Johns Hopkins University reports a total of 7.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 939,213 deaths.

The Republican, who is a chiropractor from Southwest Michigan, falsely referred to COVID-19 as a “cold.” Soldano also discouraged Michiganders from seeking help from doctors.

“It’s accountability time. Do not depend on your doctor for help. It’s your responsibility to be healthy,” he said.

Garrett Soldano Facebook video | Screenshot

Soldano argued that children should not be vaccinated because of their lower COVID-19 death rates.

“You let the kids get this naturally, it’d be fine,” he said.

Dr. Farhan Bhatti, a family physician in Lansing and the Michigan lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care, told the Advance this week in response to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on COVID-19 vaccinations benefitting pregnant people and babies that “contrary to some narratives, children and babies can get seriously ill from COVID-19.

“I personally have taken care of children in the hospital who were sick due to COVID-19, including newborns whose moms were sick with COVID-19 at the time of delivery,” he said.

Soldano was infected with the virus last year. Because of that, he claimed he is more protected from getting the disease than those who are vaccinated, similar to remarks from state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), who also contracted COVID-19. 

Numerous medical studies have shown that’s false. Those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted have more immunity than those who experienced a previous infection, and those who have recovered from the virus generally only receive an antibody boost for a few months before the protection wanes.

Last month, Soldano received criticism for similarly inflammatory comments he made about abortion.

Rape victims who become pregnant must “protect that DNA and allow it to happen,” Soldano said on a right-wing podcast in January, encouraging pregnant people to give birth no matter the circumstances. “… God put them in this moment.”

Despite the backlash, Soldano said the controversy gaining attention was “great news” because it exposed his candidacy to a national audience.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).

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