QAnon believers and other conspiracy theorists flooded a Chicago hospital with threats after the death on Monday of a prominent COVID-19 denier who was seeking treatment for the disease.
Veronica Wolski, 64, was well known in the Chicago area for spreading anti-vaccine and pro-QAnon messages via large banners displayed in high traffic areas.
She has become a political lightning rod in conspiracy circles after contracting COVID-19 and suffering complications. Her supporters have called out loud for Resurrection Medical Center to treat her with ivermectin, a drug commonly used to deworm cattle. The drug has some human applications, but it is not approved for use in the treatment of COVID-19 (federal health agencies, in fact, advise against it).
Lin Wood – a far-right lawyer Twitter banned permanently earlier this year after predicted the execution of then-vice president Mike Pence by firing squad – took advantage of Wolski’s hospitalization to bolster his own publicity. He used social media to urge his supporters to contact hospital staff and demand that Wolski be treated with ivermectin.
Hundreds of people have since called and emailed the hospital, according to NBC Chicago. Some have threatened violence.
In an article on Telegram after Wolski’s death, Wood told his followers they had the “responsibility” to stop “medical killings” and “to wage war”. Hospital staff would have called police in response to bomb threats.
A spokesperson for AMITA Health Medical Group confirmed that Wolski died on Monday morning, but declined to elaborate on the nature of the calls the hospital received.
Similar scenes are taking place in hospitals across the country. Extremist groups seek to agitate their supporters after efforts to coerce medical professionals into administering ivermectin collapse.
In Vancouver, Washington, the leader of the far-right group Patriot Prayer pledged a “call to action” this week after failing to secure a court order that would have forced doctors at a local hospital to administer medication. ivermectin to a COVID-19 patient.
The man, Rodger Gundersen, died Sunday evening. The Patriot Prayer chief posted on social media after his death, accusing Gundersen’s medics of murder.
Jared Holt, a member of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab that studies domestic extremism, said the trend is troubling.
“There has been growing hostility towards healthcare professionals as more and more unvaccinated people, especially those with varying degrees of influence in anti-vaccine activism, are hospitalized and even die after caught COVID-19, ”Holt wrote in an email to HuffPost.
“Rather than confronting their own irresponsible health choices, these movements have instead faced up to allegations of wrongdoing by medical workers tasked with trying to save their lives,” he said. “This is a terrible development that puts hospital workers – who are already sacrificing a lot to help in the way they are able to endanger.”
Unvaccinated people are four and a half times more likely to contract COVID-19 than their vaccinated peers and 11 times more likely to die from it, according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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