A pair of doctors who have been condemned by physicians across the United States for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 have become media stars thanks to exposure to Fox News.
The Daily Beast's Will Sommer reports that Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, the owners of a chain of urgent care clinics, have become celebrities among conservatives for their false claims that COVID-19 isn't more deadly than the seasonal flu.
"At their press conference, the two doctors laid out a theory of a vastly reduced coronavirus mortality rate that would soon be trumpeted across right-wing media," Sommer reports. "Citing a 6.5 percent coronavirus positive rate for tests conducted at their clinic in Bakersfield, California, the pair claimed that meant roughly 6.5 percent of the people in surrounding Kern County (with a population of nearly one million) must also have already had the disease. In Erickson’s telling, that meant the virus had only a 0.03 percent mortality rate in California, and was much less dangerous than the flu."
The two doctors were subsequently invited on Laura Ingraham's Fox News show to discuss their purported "findings" -- and now they've generated backlash from their fellow medical professionals.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) put out a joint statement condemning them for spreading misinformation.
"These reckless and untested musings do not speak for medical societies and are inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19," the organizations said. "As owners of local urgent care clinics, it appears these two individuals are releasing biased, non-peer reviewed data to advance their personal financial interests without regard for the public’s health. COVID-19 misinformation is widespread and dangerous."