COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Indiana doctor, Dr. Dan Stock, stood in front of a school board meeting in Hancock County, Indiana on Aug. 6 and made many claims about the COVID-19 vaccine and the virus to dispute mandatory vaccination and mask policies. The seven-minute clip, where you can see Dr. Stock speaking, has gone viral in one Georgia County.
Cobb County parents have emailed the Cobb County school board in the hopes that it could change its mind on the school district's current mask-less mandate.
Many of those parents, like Tracie Ellis and Jill Roth, have since reached out to 11Alive saying school board Vice-Chair David Banks replied to them with the link to that video.
"Thousands of medical doctors are saying these are the measures we need to keep our kids safe. Here, he's got one quack doctor speaking to a board of education in another state and he's sending that to me like that's the basis for making the decisions," said Roth. "And obviously the superintendent is listening to him."
"I became more concerned as to the fact that why would a school board member send something so inflammatory and false to parents that are reaching out to him collectively trying to say, hey, let's look at the best welfare for our children," added Ellis.
So our VERIFY team broke down some claims Stock used as evidence against mandatory vaccinations and mask mandates.
"We're getting our sources of information from the State Board of Health and the CDC, who actually don't bother to read science before they do this."
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC and different health departments have been constantly updating their guidance according to new scientific research that talks about the virus, its variants, and how it spreads.
"He clearly took a high school debate course, which taught him to use lots of words that people wouldn't understand, to speak quickly, so people couldn't keep up with them, and to begin by undermining the true authorities," explained Dr. Heiman. "The reality is he describes himself as a functional family physician and it's only functional because he's not really practicing. He has an online supplement business. So he's not even practicing medicine."
Dr. Heiman adds that he knows a lot of people who work for the CDC.
"I can tell you as a physician, we're not trained in epidemiology. We're not trained extensively in immunology. But I work at a school of public health, where I consult with epidemiologists and biostatisticians, and immunologists and those are the true experts. And those true experts sit in agencies like the CDC, and the NIH."
"Coronavirus and all other respiratory viruses are spread by aerosol particles which are small enough to go through every mask."
It needs context.
WHAT WE FOUND
There are many kinds of masks and each one provides a different degree of protection. While no mask is 100% effective, they all reduce risk when it comes to getting the virus and spreading it.
“We know that masks, depending on the grade of masks from a surgical grade to an N95 mask have a variation in how much they protect you. But we know that all masks reduce your risk... they're incredibly protective against both large droplets or aerosols, something that he misrepresents," said Dr. Heiman.
"No vaccine prevents you from getting infection, you get infected, you shed pathogen."
False for some vaccines, but needs context when talking about COVID-19.
WHAT WE FOUND
“While you’re risk for contracting it, it dramatically reduces your risk for being hospitalized or dying... reduced by more than 95%. That's one of the best deals we have to reduce this, but he conflates it won't protect you from it, too... that it won't protect you from dying from it. And I think that's a critical distinction," added Dr. Heiman.
In fact, as of Aug. 10, in Georgia, only .31% of fully vaccinated people have tested positive for COVID-19 and about .005% have been hospitalized, according to DPH.
"People who have recovered from COVID-19 actually get no benefit from vaccination at all, no reduction in symptoms, no reduction in hospitalization, and suffer two to four times the rate of side effects if they are subsequently vaccinated. Therefore, the policies that you are basing on are totally counterfactual."
WHAT WE FOUND
Studies have shown that people who get the vaccine after having the virus actually get a boost in virus-fighting immune cells.
A CDC study even shows that COVID survivors who never got vaccinated had a significantly higher risk of reinfection compared to those who were fully vaccinated.
“He'll take something that has a kernel of truth and generalize it in a way that it's misleading. It's really irresponsible for anybody to spread misinformation at the time of a global pandemic," added Dr. Heiman.
Cobb County parents are still shocked this was sent to them from their school board vice-chair.
In response, the school district released the following statement:
"Like any Cobb citizen, the comments of any individual board member should not be understood as official Board policy or positions of the Board as a whole. The District cannot speak to the video itself and encourage viewers to determine for themselves whether it is accurate or not."
Tracie Ellis, whose 16-year-old son is immunocompromised, is urging the district to rethink its mask policy. Cobb County is one of a few school districts in the metro Atlanta area not requiring masks for students and staff.
"I was more shocked at that was his response to parents coming to him, pleading with him to keep our kids healthy and safe. Every day that I put [my son] on the bus, I'm hoping I don't get that call... 'your son's been exposed," Ellis said.
The mother of two Cobb County students, Jill Roth, reached out to the school board via email. Here's what she wrote:
To all CCSD board members:
My name is Jill Roth. I live (and vote) in Post 5. My son attends Simpson Middle School, and my daughter attends Shallowford Falls Elementary School. Both have attended Cobb County schools since kindergarten, and we have loved the safe and secure learning environment provided by our local schools. I am, however, deeply concerned about the current disregard for the safety of our children's health. As you know, children 11 and under (my children), cannot yet be vaccinated. Public health experts, including our local board of health, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, tell us that we need to protect them by masking and social distancing. When we made the decision last semester to send them to school in person, we felt safe knowing the schools were ensuring social distancing and mask-wearing. Now there isn't a virtual option and adequate safety measures are no longer in place. Children are being hospitalized with COVID. Our local hospitals are filling up. Our schools are petri dishes. And if they have to close again, there is no plan in place.
I received a close contact voicemail from my son's school on Thursday, yet he is one of the only people wearing a mask on his bus and in many of his classes. His school somehow reported 0 cases on the report that was issued Friday. While my children wear masks, their masks alone will not protect them from the aerosol exhalations of unmasked children. Masking only works well when universally adopted. Sending my children masked when no one else in their classrooms or buses is masked is not effective. Additionally, the CDC Face Mask Order requires that all "passengers and drivers must wear a mask on school buses, including on buses operated by public and private school systems," so it's clear that everyone on the bus should be masked. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/face-masks-public-transportation.html
Neither the bus driver for my son's school nor the bus driver for my daughter's school have been wearing masks. Many teachers and administrators, who should be setting an example and supposedly care for the well-being of our children, are not wearing masks. I contacted both of my principals about my concerns, but there is nothing they can do but refer me to Cobb's policy (and wear masks themselves).
A family friend is a student at Walton. She talked about how scared she is in the hallways and crowded stairwells; how she's terrified to use that bathroom at school.
This is not the safe and secure learning environment that we want for our children.
I respectfully request that you revisit the mask guidance in Cobb County schools given the current transmission levels within our county. The Cobb & Douglas Public Health website states, "Community transmission in both Cobb and Douglas Counties is once again considered HIGH and continues to increase. There have been steady increases in case rates, percent positive tests, emergency room visits and hospitalizations." They recommend that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings. https://www.cobbanddouglaspublichealth.com/recommendations-for-fully-vaccinated-and-unvaccinated-people/
We want to keep our schools open and kids safe. Please do the right thing and require masks for your kids, teachers, school staff, and bus drivers.
“It's scary to me that, that he believes these things, and that these are the people that are making the decisions for you know, that affect our children and their safety. I mean, it's, frankly, it's horrifying," said Roth.
11Alive reached out to David Banks for an interview and/or statement and has not heard back.