McAuliffe repeats '4 Pinocchio' coronavirus stat; calls Youngkin, who was vaccinated, an 'anti-vaxxer'

The most important issue to McAuliffe supporters

Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe repeated a previously debunked number about COVID-19 hospitalizations and slammed his fully vaccinated Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, as an “anti-vaxxer” in a new interview Sunday.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McAuliffe said Youngkin’s opposition to vaccine and mask mandates is “life-threatening.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, accompanied by his wife Dorothy, speaks to supporters while campaigning on a bus tour at the Iron Workers Local Union 79 October 30, 2021 in Norfolk, Virginia. The Virginia gubernatorial election, pitting McAuliffe against Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, is November 2

“We have 1,142 children who have been in the hospital here in Virginia,” he claimed.

It is a number McAuliffe has repeated several times this month, though his framing of the figure has dramatically changed. On Oct. 7, he said, “We in Virginia today, 1,142 children are in ICU beds.”

“We’ve just 1,142 children in serious, in hospitals, in ICU beds,” he said on Oct. 21.

The Washington Post’s resident fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, awarded McAuliffe the paper’s worst possible falsehood rating of four Pinocchios over the claims.

On Sunday, McAuliffe appeared to be speaking not about the number of children currently hospitalized but about the total number of children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Virginia since the start of the pandemic. Even so, that number stood at 976 as of Oct. 23, according to state-reported statistics.

DANVILLE, VIRGINIA – OCTOBER 26: Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin gives remarks at a campaign rally at the Danville Community Market on October 26, 2021 in Danville, Virginia. Youngkin is contesting Democratic candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in the state election that is a week away on November 2. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) _____ DUMFRIES, VIRGINIA – OCTOBER 21: Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks at a campaign event featuring U.S. VIce President Kamala Harris October 21, 2021 in Dumfries, Virginia. The Virginia gubernatorial election, pitting McAuliffe against Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, is November 2. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images  |  Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

McAuliffe also slammed Youngkin as an “anti-vaxxer” despite the Republican candidate being fully vaccinated. 

“I’m running against an anti-vaxxer,” McAuliffe said. “As you know, Glenn Youngkin has said, ‘If you don’t want to take it, don’t take it.’ I believe teachers, doctors, nurses, everybody ought to be vaccinated.”

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe greets a handful of supporters outside the Virginia Democrats regional headquarters in Harrisonburg, Virginia

Youngkin has repeatedly said he believes everyone should get the vaccine, and that he himself is fully vaccinated, but that it should be a personal choice and not government mandated. He also believes masking in schools should be up to the parents and not mandated.

Early in-person voting for the Virginia governors race ended Saturday, which means Virginians will have to vote by mail or show up at the polls on Election Day on Tuesday. Youngkin is leading McAuliffe by less than one percentage point, according to a RealClear Politics polling average.

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