The 'Coronavirus Truthers' Have Arrived

They're urging people to #FilmYourHospital
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2020 7:17 PM CDT
Conspiracy Theorists Push People to #FilmYourHospital
A body wrapped in plastic is prepared to be loaded onto a refrigerated container truck used as a temporary morgue by medical workers due to COVID-19 concerns, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at Brooklyn Hospital Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NBC News is calling them "coronavirus deniers"; the Daily Beast is going with "coronavirus truthers." These are the people—most of them conspiracy theorists or far-right activists—who started the #FilmYourHospital hashtag urging people to head out to their local hospitals, film the entrances, and then post the results on social media. Their argument: Things seem pretty quiet at these hospitals despite harrowing reports to the contrary. As NBC points out, just because the outside of a hospital appears calm doesn't mean the inside is. And an expert notes that some hospitals, even in hard-hit areas like New York City, may simply be quieter than others: "There can be particularly high-risk neighborhoods within a hot spot. There may be hospitals where they're not putting refrigerated morgue trucks out the door. If you take it all together, it's one big picture. If you look at it separately, it may look like another."

Adds Will Sommer at DB, "The videos also don’t consider that, as hospitals cancel elective surgeries and ban visitors, fewer people could be parking at the hospital. The videos also don’t take into account the fact that coronavirus patients are likely isolated from the rest of the hospital, meaning they can’t be easily seen by walking past an entrance or lobby." The phenomenon started when former Fox News commentator Todd Starnes tweeted a video Saturday of a calm-looking Brooklyn Hospital Center; the next day, a New York City councilman tweeted a video of bodies being loaded onto an 18-wheeler outside the same hospital. Even so, the hashtag (which Sommer notes was started and proliferated by QAnon conspiracy theorists) and accompanying conspiracy theory had already taken off, with thousands tweeting about it by Monday and people including a onetime California congressional candidate posting similarly quiet-appearing videos of hospitals. A Fox News contributor retweeted, then deleted, that video. (More coronavirus stories.)

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