‘Buy a vibrator.’ Far-right Republicans keep playing doctor with covid-19.

Sen. Lora Reinbold holds up a document that she says supports her claims during a Feb. 2, 2021 meeting of the Senate Health and Social Services Committee.

Update: Reinbold has announced she has contracted covid-19.

Eagle River Republican Sen. Lora Reinbold, who’s on Alaska Airlines’ no-fly list after making a scene over masking (and therefore unable to attend the current special session in Juneau), has been a seemingly inexhaustible well of misinformation, vaccine conspiracy theories and fringe medical advice throughout the course of the pandemic. She’s railed against the Legislature’s efforts to limit the spread of covid-19 within its buildings, arguing that legislators and staff were in no place to be offering medical advice.

It’s apparently a problem that she doesn’t see when it comes to her own actions.

In a Facebook post from Monday night, Reinbold posted a list of supplies to have on hand “before covid strikes.” The list includes the sort of things anyone might use to combat the flu or cold like a thermometer, Vic’s, cough medicine and fruit popsicles. It also suggests that people buy a vibrator.

“Buy a vibrator to loosen chest congestion,” she suggested. “Lay on right side to open airways. Avoid laying on your back.”

She also said “another friend swears by garlic and the magic sock treatment,” a folk method to apparently boost your immune system by putting warm feet in icy cold socks (a “treatment” that has been favored—without real research—for many years).

While Reinbold’s advice is more out there than most, she’s certainly not alone among Republicans pushing unproven, untested and potentially dangerous alternative treatments to covid-19.

Another cadre of Republicans is lobbying Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration and the state pharmacy board to essentially force pharmacists to fill prescriptions for ivermectin, an unproven treatment for covid-19 that has gained popularity among conspiratorial circles. The claim is that the established medical system is overlooking the antiparasitic drug’s use to fight a respiratory virus because of a litany of conspiracy theories that appeal to the anti-science, anti-doctor attitudes.

The group, which includes Sen. Shelley Hughes and Reps. Chris Kurka, Ken McCarty and Kevin McCabe, had their efforts to push ivermectin in a recent story by Alaska Public Media.

“Maybe the pharmacists could be directed — or, directed’s the wrong word — suggested that they allow the doctors to actually be doctors and do their jobs,” McCabe told the board of pharmacy, according to Alaska Public Media. “The patient and the doctor should be the ones to decide.”

In a written response to the group’s questions about ivermectin, the Alaska Board of Pharmacy wrote that pharmacies are not free of liability from the potential negatives of the drugs they provide.

“This creates a proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ for many pharmacists,” explained the letter. “As always, pharmacists are encouraged to have discussions, educate, and make the best clinical judgement for the patient’s safety as well as any potential liability. At this writing, there have been multiple deaths/hospitalizations associated with ivermectin used to treat Covid-19. This should give most prescribers and pharmacists reason to pause before using this treatment.”

Though the state’s overall response to the pandemic has left many wanting with its largely hands-off approach to curbing the spread of covid-19, its non-partisan medical officials have been unequivocal about the best tool to combat the virus.

“Anyone who claims to be creating medical guidance and they don’t have vaccine as their No. 1 recommended tool are pushing misinformation,” Coleman Cutchins, a state pharmacist, told Alaska Public Media. “Vaccine is our No. 1 drug for the prevention of severe disease from this virus.”

Reinbold’s post finished with a call for others to pile in with their preferred treatments. One person said it was unfortunately too late for “my Nick” but thanked Reinbold for the “helpful tips.” Another posted a link to a shady nutritional supplement. Another asked for a suggestion for a naturopath who could prescribe hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin and high-dose vitamin c in order to avoid the hospital. Another asked what kind of vibrator she suggested (as of posting, Reinbold has yet to offer a specific recommendation).

Only one mentioned an approved treatment: “also get vaccinated it really helps with the covid.”

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