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Visalia Schools Leader Falsely Cites Tuberculosis Deaths for Anti-Mask Stance



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Visalia Unified School Board President John Crabtree questioned the benefit of face masks to combat COVID-19 on Tuesday, claiming they don’t prevent “hundreds of thousands” of annual deaths from tuberculosis.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people who die from tuberculosis every year, and yet we don’t wear masks in order to prevent us from getting tuberculosis,” Crabtree said at the district’s public board meeting.

Crabtree’s comments troubled many Visalia residents watching the virtual meeting from home, according to social media posts. Residents worried about the health implications of Crabtree’s statement while others questioned its veracity.

“The psychological damage that has been done to the kids,” he added, “to deal with that far outweighs the (COVID-19) threat we are seeing … with not getting them back to school.”

The numbers Crabtree shared are misleading. About 542 Americans died from tuberculosis in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicated this data was the most recent.

So far, more than 241,000 Americans have died of COVID-19-related complications since the start of the pandemic in March.

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