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This election, science seems more political than ever. Is it?

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Undark, November 2020

At the top of Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s to-do list if she wins her congressional race: work with other elected officials to encourage mask mandates and to beef up Covid-19 testing and contact tracing. Those choices are backed up by science, said Tipirneni, an emergency room physician running for Arizona’s 6th Congressional District.

On the campaign trail, she has called on her opponent, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), to denounce President Donald Trump’s gathering of thousands for a rally in Arizona and his comments about slowing down Covid-19 testing.

“I believe in data; I believe in facts,” Tipirneni told KHN. “I believe in science guiding us … whether it’s the opioid crisis or tax policy or immigration reform. Those decisions could be and should be driven by the data. Science is not partisan.”

Tipirneni is one of four Democratic physicians running as challengers for Congress in 2020, all in closely watched races mostly rated as toss-ups. And it’s not just doctors. The group 3.14 Action (named for the value of pi) is working to help elect more scientists to office, promoting on its website candidates such as Mark Kelly, an engineer and former astronaut, who is seeking a Senate seat in Arizona, and Nancy Goroff, who has a doctorate in chemistry and is running for Congress in New York. Science is an integral part of their policy platforms, with an emphasis on the coronavirus pandemic.

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