Conspiracy theorists try to take on media images of overwhelmed hospitals
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Coronavirus deniers have started a new trend of trying to calling out the “mainstream media” for hyping up the pandemic by heading to local hospitals and capturing the apparent lack of chaos on camera.
Some are labeling the trend, which has its own hashtag, as “citizen journalism” — but others point out that gathering the images could be a violation of social distancing guidelines.
While the posts aren’t being included here to avoid bringing attention to them, numerous everyday people as well as quasi-famous mostly right wing social media influencers have posted photos and video clips of “deserted” hospital parking lots.
Among those is a former Republican California congressional candidate, DeAnna Lorraine, former Fox commentator Todd Starnes and current Fox contributor Sara Carter. Carter retweeted a post but later deleted it.
At issue here appears to be widespread images of overcrowded hospitals that networks and local stations are airing are “fake.”
Meanwhile, medical workers and other everyday people are firing back at the images of empty hospital parking lots and entrances, noting they don’t tell the whole story.
First, most hospitals have closed for non-essential treatment and surgeries, which likely could explain the empty parking spots. Depending on the design and layout of the hospital, the parking lots could also be for non-essential personnel who have been told to stay at home.
In addition, some hospitals have closed select entrances to cut down on security concerns. Still others have started designating specific entrances for potential COVID-19 patients and those seeking other emergency services — so it’s possible the images are capturing entrances not in active use.
Medical experts also note that not every hospital is as busy as others — much of that depends on the location of the facility and population nearby. In a way, they say, that’s actually a bigger part of the pandemic story since it illustrates the often striking difference between health services and the spread among different socioeconomic and other demographic groups.
Finally, HIPAA and privacy laws typically prevent hospitals from releasing imagery from inside hospitals. Some photos and video have leaked out from inside medical centers — and these clips have garnered heavy airtime due to the lack of other footage.
Hospitals and medical facilities are also cutting or eliminating visitors — which would include the media.
Members of the media are typically highly restricted from entering hospitals even during normal operations for privacy and safety reasons unless they’ve made prior arrangements with the facility.