Kevin McCarthy cites disputed fentanyl overdose report to push anti-immigration rhetoric

Kevin McCarthy cites disputed fentanyl overdose report to push anti-immigration rhetoric
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) (screengrab/@Acyn/Twitter).

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) peddled a contested report about a drug-laced piece of paper currency to make a point about keeping immigrants from certain geographical areas out of the United States.

McCarthy is among the throng of Republican policymakers and pundits who believe that sealing off the American border with Mexico will eliminate the dangers posed by powerful, government-scheduled, illegally trafficked narcotics. McCarthy and his GOP kin have contended as well that overdoses are President Joe Biden's fault.

"I dunno if you saw that story about a young woman who picked up a dollar bill sitting on the floor of McDonald's and fell down because fentanyl was on that dollar bill," McCarthy told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "This is how deadly this is and we have to hold this administration accountable."

READ MORE: 'Replacement theories' and 'racially charged conspiracies': New analysis explains how GOP pushes 'dangerous' rhetoric

Watch below via Acyn or at this link:

McCarthy was alluding to the claim of a Kentucky couple that the wife collapsed after retrieving a wayward greenback from the ground inside of a fast-food establishment in Nashville, Tennessee over the weekend.

"As I was walking inside, there was a dollar on the floor just hanging out, so I picked it up, not thinking anything of it,” Renee Parsons told WSMV4 on Monday. The NBC affiliate noted that Parsons said that "her body went numb within 10 minutes after picking up the dollar. She said she could barely talk or breathe before passing out."

Parsons' husband Justin recalled to WSMV4 that "he even started to feel symptoms after his wife touched his arm."

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The problem is that medical professionals that were apprised of the incident are unconvinced.

“I think it is really unlikely the substance this lady got into her system is fentanyl based on the symptoms she had,” Doctor Rebecca Donald, a fentanyl expert and assistant professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine from Vanderbilt University, explained to WSMV4.

Skin-to-skin transmission of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid that is orders of magnitude stronger than morphine and typically prescribed for pain in cancer patients – is almost impossible.

“It is much more likely for her to have a reaction if she had inadvertently rubbed her nose and exposed that drug to some of the blood vessels in her nose or licked her fingers or rubbed her eyes,” Donald said.

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Donald's skepticism went even further.

It "would take more of a volume of drug or quantity of drug" to significantly affect a person, let alone two, Donald said. “It is certainly not impossible for that to happen, but one would think it would be a significant amount that you could see it on the hands and dollar bill to get into the air system."

Metro Police also never tested the simoleon because there was no visible residue. Authorities added that "this is not an issue they see in Nashville."

Donald was not the only professional to weigh in on the mystery.

READ MORE: Opioids in America: A bioethicist explains why restricting supply may not be the right solution

Doctor Caleb Alexander, an epidemiologist and drug safety expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Fox 29 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that absorbing fentanyl in the manner described by Parsons would be "an incredibly rare event" akin to getting struck by lightning.

"The skin is a very good barrier and defense against a lot of things that are out there in the world, and it would be incredibly unusual for somebody to touch something that was contaminated with fentanyl and subsequently to experience a really serious, adverse effect from it," said Alexander.

Snopes, meanwhile, labeled Parsons' account as "unproven."

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