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Ohio GOP lawmaker to retiring anti-vaccine leader: ‘You are wonderful, don’t leave!’

Jake Zuckerman, Ohio Capital Journal

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Rep. Diane Grendell. Source: Ohio General Assembly.

An Ohio House Republican lamented the retirement of an anti-vaccine activist Wednesday amid the largest vaccination effort in U.S. history.

Michelle Cotterman — president of Health Freedom Ohio — recently said she will be stepping down from the helm of the organization. Rep. Diane Grendell, R-Geauga, responded to Cotterman’s Facebook post sharing the news.

“I think you are wonderful, don’t leave!” Grendell wrote.

Before the pandemic, HFO largely focused on limiting the ability of schools and employers to require vaccinations, as well as broadening exemptions to those requirements. Since COVID-19 hit, the group has re-focused on challenging lockdown orders, mask mandates and other public health measures.

Now that the federal government has authorized three vaccines for use against COVID-19, HFO has taken to suggesting the vaccine is not efficacious; stoking fears of death from the vaccine on multiple occasions, despite research finding no link between the vaccines and death; implying the vaccines have been insufficiently researched; and more.

In a previous interview with the Capital Journal, Cotterman said neither she nor HFO are “anti-vaccine” and they only support “medical freedom.”

HFO’s members and leaders have testified in support of a string of legislative efforts to take the power to issue public health orders from the Ohio Department of Health and give it to state lawmakers.

Grendell sponsored the “Truth in COVID Statistics” bill last legislative session, which passed the House but died in the Senate. When presenting the bill to the Senate, Grendell made a number of conspiratorial claims including that Ohio’s coronavirus data “has been corrupted” and that “they” are paying college students $20 to get tested.

In a November interview, Grendell said she learned about the allegedly corrupted data via one source inside the CDC and one outside the agency, both of whom she declined to identify. She also declined to say what colleges are allegedly paying students to get COVID-19 tests. ODH, through a spokeswoman, denied the allegation that the department is under investigation from the CDC.

Grendell did not respond to inquiries.


This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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