As of early Tuesday morning, March 31, the coronavirus pandemic had killed more than 39,000 people worldwide (according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore). But that figure might pale in comparison to what lies ahead: Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus take force, told CNN’s John Berman this week that he “would not be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths” from COVID-19 in the United States alone in the months ahead — and that’s with aggressive social distancing measures in place. Yet despite all the deaths that coronavirus has inflicted and will continue to inflict, some far-right media figures continue to insist people are exaggerating the impact of the pandemic. And Will Sommer, in an article for the Daily Beast, takes a look at some of the idiotic tactics of coronavirus truthers.
“Right-wing figures eager to downplay the coronavirus pandemic’s death toll have hit on a new idea: filming quiet hospital parking lots,” Sommer explains. “Over the weekend, a growing number of pro-Trump personalities decided that the way to prove that the media was overhyping the pandemic was to film places where cars and ambulances show up to drop patients off. If the entrances were quiet and the parking lots mostly empty, they claimed, that was proof that the coronavirus’ effects had been overstated.”
Coronavirus truthers have become a cottage industry on the far right — not unlike birthers (conspiracy nuts who claimed that President Barack Obama wasn’t really born in the U.S.) and 9/11 truthers (those who claimed that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a hoax).
Coronavirus truthers even have their own hashtag: #FilmYourHospital, which according to Sommer, was started by a QAnon conspiracy theorist. And one of the truthers who has claimed that the media are exaggerating how overwhelmed U.S. hospitals are by the pandemic is radio host Todd Starnes (who also writes for Townhall).
Other far-right media figures and coronavirus truthers who have been promoting the #FilmYourHospital hashtag, Sommer notes, include DeAnna Lorraine Tesorieroand Fox News’ Sara A. Carter. Like Starnes, Tesoriero and Carter have pointed to empty hospital parking lots as proof that those hospitals aren’t really being overwhelmed.
This is the “war zone” outside the hospital in my Brooklyn neighborhood. https://t.co/66FZ9VO3Jj— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes)1585415376.0
Here's Fox News contributor and Hannity regular Sara Carter flirting with covid trutherism last night. https://t.co/1HI9pRTw0V— Matthew Gertz (@Matthew Gertz)1585577085.0
“There are plenty of holes in Starnes and Tesoriero’s argument,” Sommer asserts. “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.”
Sommer adds, “But chief among the holes in this theory is the myriad of direct testimony and evidence that has been offered from officials inside the hospitals, who have described horrifying conditions of human suffering, medical triage, and rapidly increasing death tallies — so much so that refrigerated trucks are being used to take away corpses.”
Another important point: the coronavirus truthers who have been filming hospital parking lots haven’t actually entered the hospitals themselves. Journalists who have done actual reporting on the pandemic have been inside hospitals and documented what is going on.
Sommer concludes his report by noting that coronavirus truthers are even showing up in the Republican of Ireland with “an unnamed woman filming inside a Dublin hospital and claiming that empty admissions rooms are proof the coronavirus outbreak is somehow fake.”