Right-wing quack Steven Hotze has dangerously told people that the coronavirus is “not very contagious,” that masks should be avoided, and that people should conduct their lives normally during the pandemic. Despite these claims downplaying the risks of COVID-19, Hotze has been trying to profit from concerns about students returning to school by selling “immune” packages that he claims can supposedly “help combat any virus.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.”
Hotze is a Texas-based doctor who heads a Houston “health and wellness” center and regularly appears in media outlets as a purported health expert. He is also an anti-LGBTQ bigot, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, and a “conservative power broker” in Houston.
The Texas Tribune reported last month that Hotze left a voicemail in June with Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office stating that the governor should order the National Guard “to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses — shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill 'em. Thank you.”
Hotze has repeatedly pushed false and dangerous misinformation about the coronavirus. In March, he appeared on Fox News claiming that “everybody has gone totally crazy about” the coronavirus and recommended that people should “conduct your life normally.”
During other media appearances about COVID-19 in March, Hotze said that the coronavirus is “not very contagious” and the response to the pandemic is “much ado about nothing,” declaring: “Don’t expect to get sick. You’re going to do fine. This is going to pass like every other one of these hysterical, infectious disease concerns have passed over the years. We’re going to be fine.”
Though scientists and public health experts support the use of masks, Hotze has been encouraging people not to wear them and has challenged mask mandates in Texas. In one Facebook post on June 19, Hotze even wrote: “Face masks are used in Satanic Rituals.”
Despite severely downplaying the coronavirus, Hotze has still been trying to profit from it by selling “immune” packages to his followers. In March, he promoted his “Dr. Hotze Immune Pak” by suggesting that it could help “prevent” a coronavirus infection.
As some students head back to school in person, Hotze is again trying to profit from people concerned about the coronavirus by expanding his “immune” line to kids and teens. He is now selling “Dr Hotze's Kids Immune Pak” and “Dr Hotze's Teen Immune Pak” for $59.99 in his online vitamins store.
Hotze appeared in a July 24 Facebook video in which he downplayed the coronavirus, saying, “With the exception of those with preexisting conditions, every Texan should go back to work, should go back to school, and should go back to church. Let these germs, these viruses and bacteria and their illnesses that they have, let them run their course so the population can build herd immunity.”
Despite downplaying the severity of the pandemic, Hotze promoted his “immune pak” as a response to the coronavirus, stating that it’s a way to “get energy back into our teens and build up their immune systems so they can get back to school and back to their studies without any issues.”
He later added: “The kids and teen paks are priced at about $2 a day, which is a small price to pay for ensuring that you're doing everything possible to get your children ready for school and to be confident that your child has the nutrients they need to help combat any virus or bacteria that may come their way.”
Media Matters has documented numerous other media figures, especially in right-wing media, who have been grifting people during the pandemic.