Dr. Steven Hotze has recently appeared on a Fox News coronavirus special and, by his estimate, dozens of radio shows to discuss the pandemic. That’s bad news for public health: Hotze is a quack who has dismissed the virus as “not very contagious” and “much ado about nothing.” He’s told people to “conduct your life normally” and “let the coronavirus run its course.” And he's also a QAnon supporter who has theorized that the “deep state could have been the ones that orchestrated” the pandemic as part of its supposed war against “the patriots.”
Hotze is a Houston-based doctor who hosts a podcast, heads a health and wellness center, and owns an online vitamin store and pharmacy. He’s a prominent Republican activist in Texas and an anti-LGBTQ bigot.
He’s also a grifter. Even though he’s dismissed the threat of the virus, Hotze has used the opportunity to launch a $125 “Dr Hotze’s Immune Pak with Vitamins A, B, C, D, and Zinc,” which has been marketed at people who are concerned about the coronavirus. His center sells his vitamins by writing: “Protect yourself from cold, flu, and even the coronavirus by boosting your immune system!” And in a recent post, Hotze suggested to readers that his vitamins could help “prevent" people from getting the coronavirus:
To build a healthy immune system, I recommend an ABCDZ program to my patients, consisting of high doses of Vitamin A and B complex, Vitamin C and Vitamin D3, and Zinc. This would also help you prevent yourself from getting the flu, coronavirus, or any other viral or bacterial infection.
The Dr. Hotze Immune Pak is available at www.hotzevitamins.com or call (800) 579-6545. I encourage you to purchase it today for yourself and for your family members.
As The New York Times reported, “Dietary supplement sales have surged nationwide as panicked consumers stock up on vitamins, herbs, extracts, and cold and flu remedies. None of these products have been shown to lower the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus or shortening its course, and taking large doses of them can potentially do harm.”
His medical methods have long been dubious; The Houston Press reported in 2005 that Hotze had inflated his credentials; that “leading experts in women's health issues say Hotze's methods are not supported by science and are potentially harmful”; and that “Hotze runs an expensive one-stop shop for thyroid disorder, hormone replacement, yeast infections and allergies, when no medical records show Hotze has training in any of them.”
He has additionally spent years promoting and selling colloidal silver (the silver products in his store are out of stock as of posting). As the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has stated, “Colloidal silver consists of tiny silver particles in a liquid that is sometimes promoted on the Internet as a dietary supplement. However, evidence supporting health-related claims is lacking. In fact, colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health.”
Despite his dubious background, Hotze’s views have been broadcast to people across the country. He estimated on March 14 that he’s been on 35 radio programs across the country “this week trying to talk some sense into America.”
His most unhinged appearance was likely on the March 13 edition of the conspiracy theory program I Protest with Don Jeffries, where he pushed elements of the violence-linked QAnon conspiracy theory and repeated its slogan. QAnon followers essentially believe that Trump is secretly working behind the scenes to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings.
Discussing the pandemic, Hotze said: “This whole thing is concocted by the mainstream media, the fake news, to try to bring down Don Trump.” He further stated: “All this comes from the deep state. There’s a battle going on and I believe, ‘Where we go one, we go all.’ And I believe we’re going to win this battle. I believe the patriots are going to win this battle over the deep state, and I think this whole thing is part of that struggle.”
He expanded on that conspiracy theory later during the program, stating that there’s a “war between the patriots and the deep state” and “this could be part of that deeper war going on. Deep state could have been the ones that orchestrated this whole viral problem with the virus. It could be, I’m not saying it happened, but it could be that.” He also referenced a component of the QAnon conspiracy theory -- that there are thousands of sealed indictments ready to take down the supposed deep state -- by saying that while there may be martial law in the country in the future: “Guess what’s going to happen? There’s 154,000 sealed indictments and let’s see what happens with [federal prosecutor John] Durham, when all this comes out and see who gets arrested.”
Hotze has made it a regular practice to promote his vitamins while speaking in the media and his I Protest appearance was no different. He also said that he started created the “immune pak” during the pandemic, stating: "Because I’m such a free enterprise entrepreneur guy with my own vitamin store, I went down there two days ago, I said, ‘Start creating Dr. Hotze’s own 'immune pak.' Let’s start making that.’”
Hotze’s appearances elsewhere featured a fount of dangerous misinformation. For example:
On March 10, Hotze appeared on a Minnesota-based podcast and promoted his vitamin products while telling listeners, “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.” He later said, “What you’ve got to say, it is not very contagious or else all the Chinese would have it.”
On March 13, he told listeners of KFKA in the Fort Collins-Greeley area of Colorado that he’s “not concerned” about the coronavirus and said that the virus “could have been weaponized” by China against the United States.
On March 14, Hotze said on KVOR in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that “this is much ado about nothing,” said he agreed with Rush Limbaugh’s comments dismissing the coronavirus, and advised that people should “let the coronavirus run its course,” and said that “people that are healthy are going to do well.” He also criticized people for promoting hand washing, not touching your face, and social distancing, saying, “Well that’s not going to happen. I haven’t changed my behavior one bit,” adding that he already washes his hands. Additionally, he said the QAnon slogan, saying he thinks “there’s something else going on deeper here that we don’t really understand.”
On March 19, as Right Wing Watch documented, Hotze said on American Family Radio that “I shake every hand that I can because I want my immune system to be challenged every day so it builds strong health.” He added: “They don’t talk about how you can keep yourself from getting sick. … Why don’t you just not get [the coronavirus]? Why don’t you just stay healthy?”
His most high-profile appearance was on a March 15 Fox News special about the coronavirus, where he was featured as a trusted source offering medical advice. Over 2 million viewers watched that program. During it, he dismissed concerns about the coronavirus as people going “totally crazy” and told viewers to “conduct your life normally.”
During a March 20 YouTube webinar, Hotze relayed what he tells people who have potential coronavirus symptoms, stating:
STEVEN HOTZE: Hey listen, I’ve had people call me up and say look, “I’ve got a sore throat, I’ve got a headache, I’ve got a cough. What do you think I ought to do?” What do I tell them to do? Take your vitamin C. You can’t go to a doctor, they’re not going to have a test for you. What they’re liable to tell you is that, "You have the symptoms of coronavirus. Stay quarantined for 14 days and tell all of your family and friends." And then they’ve got to tell everybody at work. Everybody’s petrified because Jane has a simple, you know, maybe flu virus or a cold but they’ve called it the coronavirus and they don’t even have a firm diagnosis on it because they can’t get a test.