Dr. Steven LaTulippe proclaimed to a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters on Nov. 7 that "COVID-19 is no more" and that, throughout the coronavirus pandemic that has so far killed more than 275,000 people in the US this year, neither he nor the staff at his clinic ever wore a face mask when seeing patients.
"I hate to tell you this. I might scare you, but I and my staff, none of us, once wore a mask in my clinic," LaTulippe told a cheering crowd protesting the presidential election results in Salem, Oregon, where attendees aired unfounded and baseless conspiracies of massive voter fraud. "I want to expose what I call 'corona-mania.'"
On Thursday, the Oregon Medical Board suspended LaTulippe's license and ordered the family practice doctor to "stop practicing medicine until further order of the Board," calling his actions "a serious danger to the public health or safety."
According to the order, not only have LaTulippe and his staff refused to wear masks at the South View Medical Arts clinic in Dallas, Oregon, but also, "urge persons who enter the clinic wearing masks to remove their masks."
"[LaTulippe] regularly tells his patients that masks are ineffective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and should not be worn," the statement reads, despite ongoing evidence that face coverings reduce the risks of spreading a virus that has so far infected more than 14.4 million people in the US.
Even before LaTulippe's comments at the Nov. 7 rally, where he claimed the deadly virus's "purpose was only to shut down the American people," the state medical board had already received complaints about medical advice the doctor was giving patients who feared they had been infected with the novel coronavirus.
One patient reported they had contacted LaTulippe's advice in early July seeking guidance on when and if they should be tested for COVID-19. The patient was told asymptomatic people should not be tested, wearing a mask did not prevent the spread of COVID-19, and told them "not to self-isolate because being around other people would provide Patient A with immunity to COVID-19."
When the patient contacted the clinic on July 23 questioning the advice, the order reads, they were terminated as a patient.
When patients ask about COVID-19, LaTulippe "regularly" tells them it is "very dangerous" to wear a mask and "directs patients to a YouTube video providing false information about mask wearing," according to the medical board.
LaTulippe did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.
His views about COVID-19 gained wider attention after the Nov. 7 rally, which was recorded by the Multnomah County Republicans.
Touting his 20 years of practicing medicine, LaTulippe claimed at the protest that the virus had already mutated and was therefore "no more."
"We've been utterly duped," he said in front of a crowd waving Trump and US flags and two women clutching crucifixes. "I want you to know that this is insanity and the purpose is only to shut down the American people. This is a threat to your freedom, a threat to our Constitution. I petition all of you, please take off the mask of shame. It is just a mask that is designed to control you and to shut you down."
Multiple studies have backed up the effectiveness of face masks in curbing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC has urged people to wear a mask in public areas and anywhere where there are other people.
The Oregon Health Authority and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also require healthcare workers, patients, and staff to wear masks in clinics.
Despite these requirements, the medical board noted that an investigator who visited LaTulippe's clinic on Dec. 2 found no patients or staff wearing masks, and there were no COVID-19 screening procedures for patients before entering.
There was an article posted in the clinic, however, with a portion highlighting the claim that 94% of people who experienced serious effects of COVID-19 had "co-morbidities."
According to the order, LaTulippe can request a hearing to contest his suspension. It was not immediately clear whether he had done so.
His clinic in Dallas was closed Saturday.