California Official Ousted After Lauding Coronavirus, Says 'It Allows the Sick, the Old, the Injured' to Die Naturally

A city official in Northern California was ousted after he lauded the novel coronavirus on social media, saying it allows sick, old and homeless people to meet their "natural course in nature."

Antioch's five city council members voted unanimously in a Friday night meeting via Zoom to remove Ken Turnage II from his post as chairman of the city's planning commission, NBC Bay Area reported.

Turnage sparked fury after he claimed the COVID-19 crisis was a good way of culling those who he characterized as a drain on society.

"The World has been introduced to a new phrase Herd Immunity which is a good one. In my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers its ranks, it allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in nature," he wrote in a post on Facebook.

Speaking about homeless people, he added that the virus would "fix what is a significant burden on our society."

Contra Costa
A temporary tent is visible outside the emergency department at the San Ramon Regional Medical Center hospital in Contra Costa County, San Ramon, California, on March 18, 2020. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Turnage later deleted the post, but reportedly refused to resign or back down from his comments.

During Friday night's public meeting, Turnage defended himself saying his person opinion had nothing to do with his role on the city's planning commission.

He also claimed the repercussions he was facing after his comments were viewed as "offensive speech" was a violation of his First Amendment rights. But officials argued that his posting had caused a loss in confidence and created a "disruption to the city."

Mayor Sean Wright added that politicians are "held to a higher standard by representing the city to all."

"When our words as public servants undermine the city's overall position and cause the citizens to lose confidence in us, especially during a pandemic when people are losing their lives and families are victim to illness, it is something that must be examined," he said.

Council member Lamar Thorpe said the public was "incensed" by Turnage's remarks. During the meeting, one official read off numerous email comments from the public, including one that said Turnage's remarks were a "black eye for Antioch."

Another said Turnage's comments were comparable to Nazi Germany and another said "run him off the commission and run him out of town."

After being removed from his post, Turnage, who owns a home restoration company in Antioch, said if residents had lost confidence in him, "that's their opinion and I can't help that," according to The Los Angeles Times.

He also lamented: "It's not like it used to be when you could have an opinion, talk about it and then sit down and have a beer together and talk about football."

Antioch is the second largest city in Contra Costa Country, where COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has infected 915 people and claimed 28 lives, according to the latest figures from the California Department of Health.

Turnage and the Antioch City Council have been contacted for additional comment.

This article has been updated with Mayor Sean Wright's comments.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.