Paul LePage has become the governor who cried wolf. A week ago, he admitted that his complaints about heroin dealers “by the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” infiltrating Maine and impregnating its “young, white girls” were about race, and said he was just trying to get the Feds to send more DEA agents.
During a town hall this week, he shifted focus to a new threat facing his fair state. “Asylum seekers — I think the biggest problem in our state — and I’ll explain that to you,” he said. LePage claimed that they don’t receive proper medical assessments, “And what happens is you get hepatitis C, tuberculosis, AIDS, HIV, the ‘ziki fly,’ all these other foreign type of diseases that find a way to our land.” Some in the audience disagreed and shouted, “Shame. Shame.”
Maine has not seen an increase in the HIV-infection rate in the past decade, and Megan Hannan, executive director of the Frannie Peabody Center in Portland, told WCVB that the rise in hepatitis C cases in recent years is due to intravenous drug use. “I don’t think the governor has a really good grasp of public health,” she said.
As for the “ziki fly,” that is not an insect that exists. LePage was probably referring to the Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes, but there are no known cases of the disease in Maine.
But let’s give the governor the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe he was just trying to boost tourism by claiming Maine is so idyllic it’s only problem is made up public-health threats.