In the latest example of coronavirus misinformation ricocheting off social media, a Nevada doctor’s selfie has been used to spread false claims that downplay the severity of the pandemic.
On the picture Posted on Twitter Sunday, doctor Jacob Keeperman stands at the alternative care site at Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nevada. In the background, empty plastic-covered hospital beds lie in a vacant parking lot. The photo was taken on Nov. 12, the day the site opened, so patients had yet to arrive, Renown Health said.
“I want to thank all of the amazing staff who are fighting the good fight to help all of those suffering from COVID-19,” wrote Dr. Keeperman, medical director of the Renown Transfer and Operations Center. “With 5 deaths in the past 32 hours, everyone is struggling to hold their heads up. Stay strong.”
Her photograph was then used by the @Networkinvegas account to falsely claim that it showed a ‘fake hospital’ that had ‘never seen a single patient’.
President Trump took the lie to a wider audience on Tuesday, retweeting the post @Networkinvegas with the comment: “Fake election results in Nevada too! Twitter reported on the president’s tweet, noting that the election fraud allegation was “disputed.”
In fact, the Reno alternative care site supported a total of 219 Covid patients in the three weeks it was opened. And across Nevada, hospitalizations have increased 43% in the past 14 days, with a 55% increase in deaths, according to a New York Times database.
Dr Keeperman said in an interview Wednesday that he was “sad and disappointed” to see the attacks surrounding his social media post. “I sent this tweet to recognize and thank all of our healthcare teammates who often go unrecognized,” he said. “My greatest wish is never to have to tell another family that their loved one will not be coming home.”
He received a wave of support from local, state and national leaders, colleagues in the health sector and many members of the general public – but he also received “less than tasty messages,” he said. he declares. “I chose to ignore them and keep hope.”
In response to the President’s tweet, Governor Steve Sisolak of Nevada, a Democrat, said: “Its constant misleading rhetoric on Covid-19 is dangerous and reckless, and today’s implication that the Renown alternative care site is a ‘bogus hospital’ is one of the worst examples we’ve seen.
Addressing those who argue that the pandemic is some sort of hoax, Dr Keeperman said in the interview: “Covid is real. I hope you don’t get sick, but when you do, we’ll be there to take care of you. And we’re going to have a bed for you, and we’re going to do our best. And then you will know how real it is.