Doctor’s Selfie Used to Fuel Claims That COVID is a Hoax
The doctor said the photo was intended to “recognize and to thank all of our health care teammates that often go unrecognized.”
RENO, Nev. — A photo taken by a doctor in an alternative COVID-19 care site is being used to fuel the narrative that the pandemic is a hoax.
To accommodate the growing number of coronavirus patients in Nevada, on Nov. 12, Renown Regional Medical Center opened an alternative care site inside a parking structure with two floors of supplemental hospital beds, reports AP News.
According to a New York Times database, hospitalizations in the state have increased 43% in the last 14 days, with a 55% increase in deaths. On Tuesday, The Nevada Hospital Association reported that a record-high 1,589 patients were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
On opening day at the new facility, Dr. Jacob Keeperman tweeted a photo of himself in the facility wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I want to thank all the incredible staff who are Fighting the Good Fight to help all those suffering from COVID-19,” Keeperman wrote. “With 5 deaths in the last 32 hours, everyone is struggling to keep their head up. Stay strong.”
Empty hospital beds covered in plastic can be seen in the background. According to hospital officials, the beds were empty because the photo was taken before the first patients arrived. However, the picture has been reposted on social media as a way to support conspiracy theories that hospitals are empty and the virus is not as dangerous as medical officials say it is. Some posts claim visitors went to the site and found no patients.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump retweeted a post from @Networkinvegas that originally stated, “Here is the fake Nevada parking garage hospital picture that our moron governor tweeted, proving it’s all a scam. No patients, folded up beds, wrapped up equipment that’s never been used! They spent millions on this scam and never see a single patient in this fake hospital!”
Trump captioned his retweet of the post with the caption, “Fake election results in Nevada, also!”
In an interview Wednesday, Keeperman said he was “sad and disappointed” to see the attacks regarding his post.
“I sent that tweet to recognize and to thank all of our health care teammates that often go unrecognized. My greatest wish is that I never have to tell another family that their loved one won’t be coming home,” he said. “It is really demoralizing to everybody who is out working so hard to have this politicized and polarized so much. I am holding patients’ hands when they take their very last breath because their loved ones can’t be with them.”
So far, 219 patients have been treated at the alternative site. The site, which was set up for patients who do not require long-term care, can house more than 1,400 patients.
To those who are doubting the severity of the pandemic, Keeperman added, “Covid is real. I sure hope that you don’t get sick, but when you do, we’re going to be here to care for you. And we’re going to have a bed for you, and we’re going to do our best. And then you’ll know just how real it is.”