August 27, 2021

The chief deputy sheriff of Washington County, Arkansas insists the treatment given out by the jail’s head doctor, Robert Karas, is “all voluntary.” But you have to wonder how informed and how voluntary any prisoner’s consent really is. Fayetteville Pastor Clint Schnekloth told The Daily Beast he has “a lot of moral concerns” about using the experimental treatment on prisoners. “That starts to look like Tuskegee,” he said.

The Daily Beast also reported that Karas has cited a discredited study to support his use of ivermectin. When Schnekloth exposed the doctor on Facebook, he pushed back, saying “I got experience and don’t really need more studies.” “He also suggested that he may have treated as many as 350 patients at the jail with ivermectin,” The Daily Beast wrote.

The FDA has issued a statement titled, “Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19.” It warns that while some “initial research is underway” on ivermectin, taking large doses of the drug “is dangerous and can cause serious harm.” Even the doses approved for human use (against parasites) can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners, the FDA also says.

As Rachel Maddow reported last week, at least 70% of calls to Mississippi’s poison control center relate to ingesting the animal version of it. That was in the wake of Fox News promoting ivermectin as a COVID treatment, despite its unproven status.

The FDA was alarmed enough to issue this tweet:

But Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder is standing by Dr. Karas. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported:

"Whatever a doctor prescribes, that's out of my bailiwick," Helder said. "But I will stake their record against any medical provider in any correctional facility in the United States. Doctors prescribe. They've been to medical school. I haven't."

The ACLU isn’t buying it: “"No one -- including incarcerated individuals -- should be subject to medical experimentation," Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said. “Sheriff Helder has a responsibility to provide food, shelter and safe, appropriate care to incarcerated people.”

The organization has requested records from the sheriff’s office and from Karas Correctional Medical related to jail detainees and COVID-19 precautions and care.

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