Tennessee GOP senator holds health summit in with doctors skeptical of COVID-19 vaccine as state hospitals fill

Tennessee GOP senator holds health summit in with doctors skeptical of COVID-19 vaccine as state hospitals fill
Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

A Republican state lawmaker in Tennessee recently sponsored an event at Tennessee's Cordell Hull legislative office building featuring several COVID "vaccine-skeptic" doctors.

Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma, Tenn.), who has been very vocal about her skepticism of the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, reportedly had her office reserve space on the eighth floor of the government building for the event. Adam Kleinheider, the spokesman representing Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge, Tenn.), described the event as an "informational gathering featuring Dr. Ryan Cole."

While Bowling was not in physical attendance at the meeting when the press arrived, it is being reported that she was there but left early to attend a Government Operations subcommittee meeting on another floor. The publication also notes that the group quickly disbanded when reporters arrived.

They also refused to answer questions about the topics of discussion during the meeting or why the information is being kept secret. Bowling is one of many Republican lawmakers to push back against the vaccine, raising questions about its efficacy and safety. Tennessee is currently one of the states suffering from an uptick in COVID cases and hospitalizations.

In fact, Tennessee health officials have raised concerns about the shift in positive cases as children are testing positive now more than ever with the accelerated spread of the Delta variant of COVID. On Wednesday, August 18, Tennessee reported nearly 5,500 new COVID cases including 844 cases in children.

Speaking to WKRN, Dr. Buddy Creech, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, shared his observation of the scene unfolding at the hospital where he works.

"We're seeing our hospitals filled," Dr. Creech said. "While before that was really just our adult hospitals in the area, we're now seeing more children than ever before hospitalized."

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