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Supreme Court Fixes Transcript After Justices Come Under Fire For Covid Misinformation

The Supreme Court revised the transcript of Friday’s oral arguments on the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccine mandates, after originally erroneously reporting Justice Neil Gorsuch claimed the flu kills “hundreds of thousands” annually, as both Gorsuch and Justice Sonia Sotomayor have been criticized for making false statements during the hearing.

The Supreme Court revised its transcript Monday to reflect that Gorsuch actually said the flu kills “hundreds, thousands of people each year.”

Gorsuch made the comment in a case challenging the federal government’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private employers, as he was asking Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar why Covid-19 vaccines should be made mandatory when vaccines for other diseases like polio and the flu have not.

The flu has killed between 12,000 and 52,000 Americans annually over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gorsuch received widespread criticism from people including journalists and health experts for the “hundreds of thousands” comment, as well as for likening the flu to Covid-19 when the latter has a far higher death rate.

Sotomayor also came under fire for claiming during the hearing there are now “over 100,000 children” who are “in serious condition and many on ventilators” due to Covid-19, a claim the Washington Post ruled was “wildly incorrect” and “absurdly high.”

Though the omicron coronavirus variant has led to record hospitalizations among children, they’re not as high as Sotomayor claimed: According to the CDC, there have only been 84,582 total Covid-19 hospital admissions among those ages 17 years and younger since August 2020, and the Department of Health & Human Services reports there were only approximately 5,000 children hospitalized with Covid-19 as of Saturday.

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