On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) announced they would self-quarantine after news broke that an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) had tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized. Both Republican legislators said they had yet to experience symptoms and Cruz said he decided to self-quarantine due to an “overabundance of caution.” Yet leftists rushed to mock Cruz and Gosar for prioritizing the safety of others. These angry critics repeated the false claim that Trump called the coronavirus itself a “hoax” and accused Gosar of “white supremacy” for referring to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan Virus.”
“Last night, I was informed that 10 days ago at CPAC I briefly interacted with an individual who is currently symptomatic and has tested positive for COVID-19. That interaction consisted of a brief conversation and a handshake,” Cruz wrote in a tweeted statement. He said he consulted with medial authorities, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy. Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is 5-6 days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and that I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low,” Cruz added. He further noted that testing is not effective before symptoms manifest, and that medical authorities said people who interacted with him should not be concerned.
“Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as a part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since this CPAC interaction,” the senator explained.
Today I released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/XGXEa4ozcg
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 8, 2020
While some liberals wished Cruz the best and expressed hope he would recover, others mocked him for taking the coronavirus seriously since President Donald Trump supposedly dismissed it as a “hoax.” (When the president denounced the left’s new “hoax,” he was not referring to the virus itself, but to the Democrats’ politicization of the virus. The Daily Caller, one of Facebook’s independent fact-checkers, set the record straight on this, and Politico received a “false information” flag for sharing the story.)
Feminist author Amy Siskind responded to Cruz’s self-quarantine tweet with the message, “But Trump said it was a hoax So you’re all good…”
But Trump said it was a hoax So you’re all good…
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) March 8, 2020
“Why? It’s a Democratic hoax- just ask Trump!!” radio host Dean Obeidallah tweeted.
Why? It’s a Democratic hoax- just ask Trump!!
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) March 9, 2020
In addition to these “verified” Twitter users, many angry users posted laughing emojis, mocked Cruz’s belief in “thoughts and prayers,” and suggested Cruz was experiencing “Karma.”
Others thanked Cruz for taking this stance, but still attacked Trump for supposedly calling the coronavirus a “hoax.”
“Thank you for exercising caution and putting the health of others ahead of the party line that this is a Democrat hoax,” journalist and New York Times bestselling author Molly Knight tweeted.
Thank you for exercising caution and putting the health of others ahead of the party line that this is a Democrat hoax.
— Molly Knight (@molly_knight) March 8, 2020
Paul Gosar issued a similar Twitter statement, but he referred to the coronavirus as “the Wuhan Virus.” This really triggered leftists.
“I am announcing that I, along with 3 of my senior staff, are officially under self-quarantine after sustained contact at CPAC with a person who has since been hospitalized with the Wuhan Virus. My office will be closed for the week,” he tweeted. “We are all asymptomatic and feel great. But we are being proactive and cautious.”
1. I am announcing that I, along with 3 of my senior staff, are officially under self-quarantine after sustained contact at CPAC with a person who has since been hospitalized with the Wuhan Virus. My office will be closed for the week.
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) March 9, 2020
Liberal Christian author John Pavlovitz rushed in with the “hoax” attack.
“‘…been hospitalized with the Democratic hoax.’ Fixed it for you,” he tweeted.
“…been hospitalized with the Democratic hoax.”
Fixed it for you.
— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) March 9, 2020
Gosar received the harshest criticism for calling the coronavirus “the Wuhan Virus,” however. Many Twitter users pointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidance urging people not to refer to the virus in geographic terms, since it might be considered an ethnic attack. “DON’T – attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus’, ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus’. The official name for the disease was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the WHO tweeted.
Leftist critics rushed to accuse Gosar of deliberately choosing the term “Wuhan Virus” with racist intent.
“Just astoundingly gross to call it the Wuhan Virus,” Chris Hayes tweeted.
Just astoundingly gross to call it the Wuhan Virus. https://t.co/cMrsA59xTH
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 9, 2020
“Most people call it the coronavirus. Some call it Covid-19. But only the most ignorant and racist among us would call it the Wuhan virus,” former resident physician Eugene Gu tweeted to his 340,000 followers.
Most people call it the coronavirus.
Some call it Covid-19.
But only the most ignorant and racist among us would call it the Wuhan virus.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 9, 2020
Blogger and author Lauren Hough condemned Gosar as a “racist f**k.”
Transgender activist Charlotte Clymer went further, accusing the congressman of supporting “white supremacy.”
“No hesitation, either. Just thought: ‘Yeah, everyone is calling it COVID or corona — you know what? Let’s mix it up with the white supremacy a bit,'” Clymer tweeted.
No hesitation, either. Just thought: “Yeah, everyone is calling it COVID or corona — you know what? Let’s mix it up with the white supremacy a bit.”
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 9, 2020
“Only racists call it the Wuhan Virus. I guess this is the strategy now that Republicans can’t call it a hoax any more?” Gary Whitta, a screenwriter best known for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Book of Eli, tweeted.
Only racists call it the Wuhan Virus. I guess this is the strategy now that Republicans can’t call it a hoax any more?
— Gary Whitta (@garywhitta) March 9, 2020
Do “only racists” call it the “Wuhan Virus”? Since the coronavirus reportedly originated in Wuhan, it was referred to as the “Wuhan Virus” before the term “COVID-19” took off in internet search traffic. The term “coronavirus” has always been more popular than either of these terms, but that does not mean Gosar chose the term “Wuhan Virus” due to racism.
In fact, many media outlets — most notably CNN — repeatedly used the term “Wuhan Virus” in January.
The media claims its racist and xenophobic for @RepGosar to call coronavirus the Wuhan Virus.
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) March 9, 2020
“Just astoundingly ignorant to have all major media refer to it as [Wuhan Virus] for months but somehow, today, you’ve decided that’s [racist]. If you think this virus cares about your race you probably work for or watch MSNBC. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus,” Gosar shot back.
Just astoundingly ignorant to have all major media refer to it as #WuhanVirus for months but somehow, today, you’ve decided that’s #racist. If you think this virus cares about your race you probably work for or watch MSNBC. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus. Wuhan Virus. https://t.co/xOLD9XE8BT
— Paul Gosar (@DrPaulGosar) March 9, 2020
Gosar arguably should not have used the term, but to assume that he must be racist because he used the term is asinine. “Wuhan” is not an ethnic slur — it refers to a geographical region of China. Perhaps if Gosar had called it the “Chinese Virus,” the “Asian Virus,” the “Yellow Virus” or the “Hun Virus,” then these accusations of racism might make sense. But rushing to race over the geographic term “Wuhan Virus” is irresponsible and malicious, especially when media outlets were using it just over a month ago. Was CNN racist?
The Hill‘s Joe Concha had the proper response to all this glee and vitriol directed at Cruz from leftists.
“The giddy reaction already … displayed down here to Ted Cruz announcing his self-quarantine for Coronavirus is as despicable as it is depressing. It seems more people are interested in rooting against the so-called other side than anything else. Just horrible,” Concha tweeted.
The giddy reaction already be displayed down here to Ted Cruz announcing his self-quarantine for Coronavirus is as despicable as it is depressing. It seems more people are interested in rooting against the so-called other side than anything else. Just horrible.
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) March 8, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.