Georgia GOP Sen Draws Backlash for Wrestling Meme of Trump Beating Up COVID-19: '7,192 Georgians Have Died'

Georgia GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler has drawn ridicule for posting a 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment video of President Donald Trump seemingly beating up the novel coronavirus—a move that prompted many to remark that more than 7,000 Georgians have died of COVID-19.

Loeffler remarked "COVID stood NO chance against @realDonaldTrump!" in a Monday tweet, which immediately drew criticism that such a post was unbecoming of a sitting U.S. senator. The latest data from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows Georgia has recorded 7,192 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. The Republican senator's state has tallied 322,078 total positive cases, including 28,924 people who were hospitalized from symptoms tied to coronavirus.

Many critics noted that Loeffler was among several senators who sold off stocks just prior to the initial market crash back in February. She and North Carolina GOP Senator Richard Burr were accused of selling off millions in stocks as the Trump administration sought to cover up the COVID-19 outbreak.

7,192 Georgians have died from COVID-19.

— Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) October 5, 2020

Trump himself sparked outrage Monday after tweeting "don't be afraid of Covid" as he announced his departure from Walter Reed Medical Center following several days of treatment for COVID-19. Nearly 210,000 Americans have died as a result of contracting the disease so far this year.

The edited WrestleMania 23 video shows a microscopic close-up of the virus superimposed onto WWE CEO Vince McMahon's head as Trump pretended to beat him up during the 2007 event. The president himself has repeatedly shared altered versions of the clip and meme, including one in which he appeared to defeat CNN.

"This is obviously an incredibly bizarre thing for a sitting US senator to tweet for a lot of reasons. But do they think that people who died from Covid... just weren't tough enough? Does Loeffler think that the 7,000 Georgians who have died from it were weak and gave up?" remarked author and attorney Susan Hennessey in response to Loeffler's gif tweet.

"What a cruel thing to tweet for all the families who lost loved ones. Whew, Georgia. What an evil lady in your midst," replied CNN host Soleded O'Brien.

Loeffler is defending her Georgia senate seat from a slew of Democratic challengers in the upcoming November 3 special election, including Savannah native Reverend Raphael Warnock. "7,192 Geogians have died from COVID-19," he responded Monday. "Help us defeat @KLoeffler."

Warnock is neck-and-neck with Loeffler in several recent polls of likely voters in the Georgia senate race.

Loeffler was one of several Republicans who attended a Saturday, September 26 event in the White House Rose Garden in celebration of Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court. The event has been blamed by many for leading to the infections of Trump, former counselor Kellyanne Conway and a slew of other White House staffers.

But just hours after attending that event in Washington, Loeffler traveled to the Faith and Freedom coalition conference in Cobb County, Georgia, where many attendees refused to wear masks. She delivered remarks there alongside several GOP lawmakers in which she blamed China for infecting the president and first lady Melania Trump.

Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream WNBA basketball team and on December 4, 2019, was appointed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp to succeed Johnny Isakson, who resigned from the senate due to health concerns. Loeffler's campaign announced last week she tested negative for COVID-19.

Newsweek reached out to Loeffler's office as well as that of Governor Kemp Tuesday morning for additional remarks.

georgia senator kelly loeffler covid-19
Georgia GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler (left) has drawn ridicule for posting a 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment video of President Donald Trump seemingly beating up coronavirus—a move which prompted many to remark more than 7,000 Georgians have died of COVID-19. GREG NASH / POOL/Getty Images