Several politicians have died or resigned due to COVID-19

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Herman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate, businessman and close ally of President Donald Trump, was celebrated at a private funeral in Atlanta on Friday. Cain died July 30 of complications from COVID-19. He was 74. (Aug. 7)

AP Domestic

The claim: No politicians have died or resigned due to COVID-19, or had their businesses looted

The nationwide death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has reached over 200,000 and has affected many public figures, including celebrities, athletes and politicians. But a viral meme circulating on social media claims otherwise.

“Not one politician has died from the virus, lost their job, or had their business looted,” reads a Sept. 7 Facebook meme  which features a photo of actor Tommy Lee Jones. “Y’all know you’re being played right?”

USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.

The meme was also shared by conservative news personality Ben Swann and was removed shortly after being contacted for comment. Samuel Eaton, spokesperson for Swann, told USA TODAY in an email that the meme shared has since been deleted. 

However, the post had already been shared thousands of times and been reposted by other users across Facebook before being deleted. 

U.S. politicians have died from the coronavirus

According to Ballotpedia, a nonprofit, nonpartisan website tracking deaths and diagnoses for politicians, eight politicians have died from COVID-19.

Among those is former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who died in late July after a battle with coronavirus

“Herman was 74. Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer,” wrote Dan Calabrese, editor of Cain’s website.


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Other politicians who have died from COVID-19 include South Dakota state Rep. Bob Glanzer and Louisiana state Rep. Reggie Bagala.

Michigan state Rep. Isaac Robinson died at 44 in March of a suspected coronavirus infection. He had not been tested for the virus, however, his mother said he had difficulty breathing days before his death and resisted medical attention.

Local politicians have also died due to COVID-19, including Jersey City, New Jersey, Councilman Michael Yun and St. Paul, Minnesota, Board of Education Chairwoman Marny Xiong.

Politicians who have resigned due to COVID-19

Several politicians have lost their jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has been reported that at least one politician has had his office looted. 

Phil Hogan, the European Union’s top trade commissioner, recently resigned after breaching Ireland’s COVID-19 restrictions when he attended a golf event with 80 people, CNN reported.

David Clark resigned from his position as New Zealand’s health minister in July after breaching his own lockdown rules and receiving criticism on the government’s response to the coronavirus, according to BBC.

Dara Calleary stepped down as agriculture minister of Ireland after attending a dinner that included more than 80 guests, The Guardian reported. In Ireland, it is an offense to hold an event with more than 50 people under COVID-19 regulations.

The Associated Press reported that state and local government health officials in the U.S. have quit or been fired over disagreements on how to handle the pandemic. 

And while the meme claims that not one politician had a business looted following the death of George Floyd, it has been reported that is the case for at least one politician. 

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brendan Boyle wrote on Twitter in June that his district office in Philadelphia was broken into. 

Our ruling: False

The claim that not one politician has died from coronavirus, lost their job, or had their business looted is FALSE, based on our research. State and local politicians have died from the virus, and politicians globally have resigned amid the pandemic as well as public health officials in the U.S.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Ballotpedia, Government official, politician, and candidate deaths, diagnoses, and quarantines due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020
  • USA TODAY, July 30, Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain dies after battle with COVID-19
  • Hermancain, July 30, We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord
  • Sioux Falls Argus Leader, April 3, Coronavirus claims life of South Dakota lawmaker Bob Glanzer
  • Houma Today, April 10, Remembering Reggie Bagala: Colleagues mourn loss of dedicated public servant
  • Crain’s Detroit Business, March 29, State Rep. Isaac Robinson dies of suspected coronavirus infection
  • CNN, April 7, Jersey City councilman dies from coronavirus
  • Star Tribune, June 7, Marny Xiong, St. Paul school board chairwoman, dies at 31 of COVID-19
  • CNN, Aug. 26, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan resigns after breaching coronavirus restrictions
  • BBC, July 2, Coronavirus: New Zealand minister resigns after lockdown blunders
  • The Guardian, Aug. 21, Irish minister resigns over golf dinner that flouted Covid-19 rules
  • Associated Press, Sept. 4, Posts falsely claim ‘not one politician’ has died from coronavirus
  • Brendan Boyle, June 1, Tweet

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


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