The Democratic nominee to be the next governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, has accumulated a peculiar collection.
For the last several months, McAuliffe has been a fixture of the Washington Post‘s fact check section, stacking pinocchios — the more pinocchios, the more deceptive the claim — like he has runs for governor.
His latest showing on Tuesday came courtesy of his continued commitment to exaggerating various aspects of COVID-19’s effects on Virginia.
Glenn Kessler, awarding McAuliffe the maximum of four pinocchios, writes that “in speaking about the threat of the coronavirus to the state, McAuliffe frequently touts numbers — often wrong numbers about the impact on children.”
“When we first queried the McAuliffe campaign about his figures, we were told it was a slip of the tongue. Okay, we understand that, and so we passed on a fact check. But then his tongue kept slipping,” Kessler notes.
McAuliffe’s misstatements include not just massive exaggerations of daily case counts, but of the threat the disease poses to children. As Kessler points out, McAuliffe has, on three separate occasions, asserted that over 1,100 Virginian children were in hospitals on a single day with coronavirus. Twice, the Democrat stated that 1,142 children afflicted with COVID were presently lying in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds. On one of those days, the total number of ICU beds occupied by Virginians of all ages infected with coronavirus was 334.
As recently as this past Saturday, McAuliffe suggested that “here in Virginia, you should understand, 1,142 of our children have been in hospitals because they got COVID.” Even this, however, is inaccurate. Per the Virginia Department of Health, 952 children have been hospitalized, and only ten have died, between the start of the pandemic and October 16.
McAuliffe’s coronavirus lies come alongside a bevy of other untruths that have characterized the final stage of his campaign. In recent days, the McAuliffe campaign has also mischaracterized the position of his opponent Republican Glenn Youngkin, on vaccines, January 6, and the intersection of education and race.
The FiveThirtyEight polling average has McAuliffe up 1.7 points with less than a week left. On August 1, the Democrat led by nearly seven points.