Dwight Howard is coming under fire after saying he does not believe in vaccines and for following several accounts pushing the far-right QAnon conspiracy on Twitter.
As USA Today reported, the Los Angeles Lakers center has already stirred up controversy inside the NBA’s “bubble” in Orlando, Florida by not wearing a mask in public, and now is coming under sharper scrutiny after an Instagram live video in which he spoke out against vaccinations. You can view Howard’s live post here.
“Do I believe in vaccinations?” Howard said. “No, I don’t. That’s my personal opinion, but no, I don’t.”
He later seemed to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the use of masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I didn’t know that the coronavirus be flying through the air looking for people,” he said.
The post drew some immediate pushback, with many chiding Howard in the comments for the statements and for not having a mask on while walking outside of his room. Earlier in the week, Howard had been reported to the league-mandated hotline, leading to him getting a warning from the NBA.
“Dude put your mask on before they catching you again man,” one person warned the NBA All-Star.
Later in the video, Howard appeared to talk to someone in a laundry room who also did not have a facial covering, saying that he did not believe players were at risk of contracting coronavirus while on the Disney campus. Several players have already tested positive, including at least one who had to leave after a positive test.
Howard’s apparent political beliefs have been under scrutiny for several days, after a Twitter user revealed that the Lakers’ center was following a number of QAnon accounts. The conspiracy has gained popularity in far-right circles on the internet and claims that Donald Trump is secretly working to bring down international child abuse rings that involved a number of high-profile Democrats. The conspiracy has incorrectly predicted that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were being arrested for their involvement.
I just checked and he is still following these accounts…https://t.co/5PX51e58H7
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) July 19, 2020
While it is not clear if Howard is aligned politically with others who follow QAnon or if he followed these accounts for their political theories, many on the right have spoken out against masks and taking a vaccine for the novel coronavirus when it becomes widely available. Trump himself has cast doubt on the effectiveness of wearing facial coverings, saying in an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace this weekend that there are unspecified “problems” that can arise from wearing them.