A Facebook post by Rep. Roger Marshall (D-KS), who is running for U.S. Senate, was removed by the platform for misstating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) coronavirus death data.
Marshall on Sunday posted about a widely-circulating claim that the CDC "quietly updated" its data about coronavirus deaths. The CDC says that for 6% of the deaths, the virus was "was the only cause mentioned," whereas the remaining number of deaths were people with preexisting conditions.
President Donald Trump amplified the claim on Twitter over the weekend. The goal of the claim seems to be to downplay the number of deaths that have occurred because of the virus.
However, the CDC has warned that people with preexisting health conditions are at high risk if they contract coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House coronavirus adviser, poured cold water on the idea that those statistics were indicative of anything other than that thousands of Americans have died because of the virus during an interview with Good Morning America this week.
"That does not mean that someone who has hypertension or diabetes who dies of COVID didn’t die of COVID-19. They did," Fauci said, according to CNBC. "So the numbers you’ve been hearing—there are 180,000-plus deaths—are real deaths from COVID-19. Let (there) not be any confusion about that."
PolitiFact, a fact-checking website, has also debunked the idea that the CDC data shows that coronavirus deaths are lower because of the 6% number.
"People with preexisting conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, have a higher risk of dying if they contract COVID-19," PolitiFact wrote. "Complications from those conditions, as well as comorbidities like influenza and pneumonia, can be listed in addition to the coronavirus on death certificates. In 92 percent of death certificates that mention the virus, COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death, according to the NCHS."
Marshall's post, which was screenshotted by KMBC News 9, cited the figures about 6% being the "sole cause of death," adding, "The change in reporting reflects the difference between dying from COVID-19 and dying with COVID-19."
A Facebook spokesperson told the Daily Dot the post was removed because it "misstates CDC data about the deadliness of the disease."
"We’ve removed this post for violating our policies against spreading harmful misinformation about COVID-19 since it misstates CDC data about the deadliness of the disease," the spokesperson said.
Facebook said it would take down posts from other users who present the data in the same way.
On Monday, Marshall said Facebook removed the post "without notice or explanation." He also echoed some Trump talking points by saying "social media companies should not be allowed to censor science that they disagree with. This is corporate censorship, pure and simple."