As Coronavirus Cases Exceed 1 Million, Colorado Springs GOP Wonders If It's Even Real

The El Paso County Republican Party questioned the reality of the deadly pandemic Wednesday in a now-deleted Facebook post.

While President Donald Trump furiously backpedals from his own monthslong campaign to downplay the coronavirus “hoax,” it seems Republicans at the county level missed the message.

This, after the Republican Party of El Paso County ― home to Colorado Springs, Colorado ― wondered aloud on Facebook Wednesday if coronavirus is actually a “PSYOP,” or “psychological operations,” campaign.

“Hello El Paso County! Do you believe that the Coronavirus is a PSYOP (Psychological Operation)?” The post read. “Post your answer ... the definition of (PSYOP) is below.”

The definition read: “Psychological operations (PSYOP) are operations to convey select information and indicators to audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

The post was deleted soon after it went live, under pressure from Republican officials at the state level. But El Paso County party chair Vickie Tonkins told Colorado Politics she doesn’t see what the big deal is.

“I posted a question. I’m sorry people couldn’t answer it,” she told the newspaper. “Don’t get all offended.”

She elaborated in a followup post on Facebook:

“I put a post on our Facebook earlier today to see what people thought!” Tonkins wrote, in part. “I am sorry a few of you were offended by a definition, that was NOT the intention. I did not give an opinion I just asked what people’s thoughts as we have asked your thoughts on other issues.”

El Paso County has one of the nation’s highest death rates from coronavirus. A senior citizen who posthumously tested positive for the diease attended at least six bridge games at the Colorado Springs Bridge Center while infectious, potentially exposing up to 300 other people. Separately on Wednesday, Jeff Hopkins, a 41-year-old El Paso County sheriff’s deputy, died of COVID-19.

As of April 1, there have been 3,342 confirmed cases of the virus and 80 deaths in the state. The number of cases of COVID-19 around the world surpassed 1 million Thursday, with 236,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. — the most known infections of any country.

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