A Nevada doctor who has found himself at the center of a social media firestorm after tweeting a photo of himself in a Reno hospital garage being used to treat COVID patients says he wishes his critics were correct and the pandemic was fake. Dr. Jacob Keeperman says he took the photo minutes before the first patient arrived last month. In his tweet Sunday, he thanked his colleagues in the COVID ICU and said: "With 5 deaths in the last 32 hours, everyone is struggling to keep their head-up. Stay strong." But after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak retweeted the photo, a conservative blog claimed that the lack of patients and the unused equipment in view proved that "it's all a scam." That post was retweeted by President Trump Tuesday, who added: "Fake election results in Nevada, also!"
"I was disappointed. I was just completely caught off guard," Keeperman, executive medical director of the care site at Renown Regional Medical Center, tells the Washington Post. “My tweet was a nonpolitical, nonpartisan message thanking health-care workers, and it was turned into something that it was never meant to be." The hospital says the parking garage site has treated around 200 patients since opening in November, the AP reports. Keeperman says the healthcare system is near the breaking point and the daily reality of dealing with dying COVID patients is "devastating." "Like everyone else, we are tired and we are worn down. We would love for this to be over. We would love for all of this to have been fake but, unfortunately, it’s not. It’s reality," Keeperman tells the Reno Gazette Journal. (Read more coronavirus stories.)