FactFinder 12 digs into COVID-19 claims made in viral video

Factfinder 12 digs into viral video of false coronavirus claims
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 8:49 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Although social media sites have worked to take down a viral video because of false claims made about COVID-19, people across the country continue to share it.

FactFinder 12 investigator Alex Flippin spent Wednesday (July 29) trying to get in touch with some of the doctors who appear in the video.

FactFinder 12 reached out to two of the doctors who appears in the video, leaving messages and sending emails. Flippin also tried reaching out to the group, America’s Frontline Doctors. That’s the name seen monogrammed on doctors’ lab coats in the video.

As of Wednesday night, no one associated with the group responded, so FactFinder 12 took a closer look at some of the claims made in the video and the doctors who made them.

The woman seen introducing the doctors in the video spreading false information about COVID-19 is with the Tea Party Patriots Foundation.

In the video, men and women who we can verify are actual doctors, say they are with a group called America’s Frontline Doctors. Since the video went viral, America’s Frontline Doctors’ website has been taken down by the website’s host, Squarespace. FactFinder 12 reached out to Squarespace for comment but did not hear back.

When the site could be reached, it listed Dr. Simone Gold as part of the organization. On her Twitter page, you can see her in front of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In the video, Dr. Gold wears a lab coat that reads “Emergency Department” and tells watchers that emergency room volume is down at the hospital.

FactFinder 12 contacted Cedars-Sinai to learn of Dr. Gold’s affiliation with the hospital.

The hospital said, “for three weeks in late 2015, Dr. Gold was employed on a per diem basis by Cedars-Sinai Medical Network, a component of Cedars-Sinai. She worked during this brief time in a network urgent-care clinic. Dr. Gold is not authorized to represent or speak about any information on behalf of Cedars-Sinai.”

Physician information websites list Dr. Gold as being affiliated with Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Calif. When reached to verify, a spokesperson for the hospital said Dr. Gold is not on staff and she is not affiliated with any medical group related to the hospital. The spokesperson went on to say the hospital urges everyone to wear a mask, maintain physical distance, and listen to the guidance from their local health department and officials.

On the subject of masks, Dr. Stella Immanuel in the video says, “You don’t need masks. There is a cure. Nobody needs to get sick. The virus has a cure.”

She says the “cure” is hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax. Dr. Immanuel’s claims are not true. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there is no cure for COVID-19. This is why the video has been taken down by YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, to name a few places where it’s been posted.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in March after some initial evidence showed it might be effective in treating COVID-19 patients, but then revoked that use authorization in June, saying the drugs were “unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19,” and that the “known and potential benefits” of the drugs no longer “outweigh” the risks, which can include “serious cardiac adverse events and other potentially serious side effects.”

Dr. Immanuel also mentioned a 2005 study saying chloroquine worked in treating COVID-19, but that study involved SARS-COV, not COVID-19.

Another of the false claims made in the video is that there is no need to wear a mask. The CDC says masks are the best way to prevent spreading COVID-19 because it is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets.

FactFinder 12 tried to reach Dr. Gold by phone, email, and social media. As of Wednesday night, she hasn’t responded. FactFinder 12 did reach someone claiming to be with Dr. Immanuel’s clinic in Texas. The person on the phone said Dr. Immanuel is hard to reach and that she hadn’t seen her for a while, but the doctor might get back with FactFinder 12 by the end of the week.

FactFinder 12 also reached out to the attorney for America’s Frontline Doctors. Early Wednesday, FactFinder 12 was told that the attorney would call back. As of Wednesday night, he hadn’t done so.

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