Fact Check

Did Ted Nugent Ask Why There Were No Lockdowns for 'COVID 1 Thru 18'?

In a 12-minute video, the musician amplified several bogus claims and conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

Published April 11, 2021

 (Gage Skidmore/Public Domain)
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Public Domain
Musician Ted Nugent questioned why there weren’t lockdowns for “COVID one through 18” in a Facebok Live video posted on April 7, 2021.

Snopes is still fighting an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can help. Find out what we've learned and how to inoculate yourself against COVID-19 misinformation. Read the latest fact checks about the vaccines. Submit any questionable rumors and “advice” you encounter. Become a Founding Member to help us hire more fact-checkers. And, please, follow the CDC or WHO for guidance on protecting your community from the disease.

In a nearly 12-minute video shared from the verified Facebook account of Ted Nugent, the musician vented his frustrations about the COVID-19 pandemic, while amplifying conspiracy theories, in a bizarre rant.

“I ain’t scared. I ain't scared of nothing,” said Nugent before going on a tangent about “knowing every songbird.”

At about the 1:30 mark, the musician then lamented the decisions made by production companies to cancel tours in 2021.

“We are not waiting for any authorization from any bureaucratic entity to say, ‘you can go ahead and tour now.’ You know, this year’s tour is canceled again. Are you kidding me? The production companies won’t let us tour again this year,” said Nugent. “Dirty, bastards, lying, scam, smoke and mirrors, COVID-19 freaks.”

And at the 2:20 mark, the 72-year-old asked his viewers the following:

You know, I guess I would ask you — because I’m addicted to truth, logic and common sense — and my common-sense meter would demand the answer to why weren’t we shut down for COVID one through 18?

COVID-1 — and there was a COVID 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 — COVID one through 18 didn’t shut anything down but woah, COVID-19!

He did not appear to be joking.

Much of the information included in Nugent’s social media rant was misleading and rife with misinformation.

For example, Nugent echoed erroneous claims that numbers of reported COVID-19 deaths have been exaggerated (we fact-checked similar claims here, here, and here) and questioned whether the 500,000 total death count was accurate. (As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed more than 539,000 associated deaths in the U.S.) Nugent also claimed that COVID-19 is "99.8% survivable" (False) and questioned why there were no shutdowns for other pandemics like the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918 (In fact, there were many.)

The respiratory disease COVID-19 was named in February 2020 for the coronavirus that causes it — SARS-CoV-2 — and the year in which the first disease case was reported — 2019. Following that logic, Nugent’s proclamation of a “COVID one through 18” would suggest that there had been 18 years of coronavirus infection rates at a global scale, which is unfounded.

And though COVID-19 is the only respiratory disease to be caused by SARS-CoV-2, other coronaviruses have prompted government response in the last two decades. Coronaviruses make up a large family of zoonotic viruses that are found around the world in a variety of animals, from bats and pangolins to tigers, dogs, and humans.

The 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was also caused by a coronavirus, SARS-CoV, and marked the “first pandemic of the 21st century.” According to the CDC, the disease did not spread widely in U.S. communities and though the country did not go on lockdown, the health agency issued a number of emergency responses to battle a potential widespread outbreak. Globally, a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with SARS, 774 of whom died. Only eight people in the U.S. were laboratory-confirmed to have been infected by the virus. Similarly, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a coronavirus caused by MERS-CoV and was first reported in September 2012. But only two people in the U.S. have ever tested positive for MERS-CoV infection — both in May 2014.

Madison Dapcevich is a freelance contributor for Snopes.