Florida man hospitalized with coronavirus days after calling pandemic a “fake crisis”


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(Natural News) A man who previously posted on social media that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is a “fake crisis” that was simply “blown out of proportion” is now hospitalized along with his wife after catching the dreaded virus.

“I thought it was maybe the government trying something, and it was kind of like they threw it out there to kinda distract us,” Brian Hitchens, a rideshare driver from Jupiter, Florida, said in an interview with WPTV.

“I’d get up in the morning and pray and trust in God for his protection, and I’d just leave it at that. There were all these masks and gloves. I thought it looked like a hysteria,” he added.

A self-proclaimed “COVID-19 skeptic,” Hitchens said that prior to getting infected, he made Facebook posts that downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic, and that he would instead cling to his faith, since God is “bigger” than the virus will ever be.

“I’m honoring what our government says to do during this epidemic but I do not fear this virus because I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be,” Hitchens wrote in a Facebook post on April 2.

In his interview, Hitchens said he continued to downplay the pandemic — until he began to feel sick, which led to him taking a break from working.

According to Hitchens, who recorded a log of his experience, his wife also began feeling unwell after a couple of days.

“Been home sick for over a week. Both my wife and I [are] home sick,” he wrote in a post on April 18. “I’ve got no energy and all I want to do is sleep.”

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Hitchens, in his interview, noted that his wife soon went to a hospital and was told to go under quarantine. (Related: Anti-lockdown protests might be spreading the coronavirus.)

On another Facebook post, Hitchens wrote that he and his wife went to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center on April 19, when their conditions worsened.

According to Hitchens, he and his wife both tested positive for COVID-19.

“They admitted us right away and we both went to ICU,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “I started feeling better within a few days but my wife got worse to the point where they sedated her and put her on the ventilator.”

“I was never put [on a] ventilator and started feeling better, feeling stronger, never had terrible aches and pains, just weak and exhausted,” Hitchens said.

Hitchens said his wife remains sedated.

“As of today my wife is still sedated and on the ventilator with no signs of improving,” Hitchens said, adding that during the couple of times the doctors tried to wean her off the ventilator, his wife’s oxygen level would drop. “They had to put her back on the ventilator full time,” Hitchens said.

Now, the once-staunch skeptic has something to say to those who still continue to downplay the severity of the ongoing pandemic: “This thing is nothing to be messed with please listen to the authorities and heed the advice of the experts,” he wrote on Facebook.

“We don’t have to fear this and by heeding the advice doesn’t mean that you fear it, that means you’re showing wisdom during this epidemic time,” Hitchens said in a post that has since been shared more than 1,400 times.

As per state health data, there have been at least 46,944 positive COVID-19 cases in Florida, with 2,052 deaths.

Experts decry “disinfodemic” regarding coronavirus

The influx of misinformation on the internet is posing an additional danger to the public, several experts have warned.

According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this phenomenon of misinformation — which they have dubbed a “disinfodemic” — is putting lives at risk, citing “fabrications and falsehoods” regarding the virus’ origins and unproven and dangerous “cures.”

“There seems to be barely an area left untouched by disinformation in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, ranging from the origin of the coronavirus, through to unproven prevention and ‘cures’, and encompassing responses by governments, companies, celebrities and others,” Guy Berger, the Director for Policies and Strategies regarding Communication and Information at UNESCO, said.

Carl Miller, research director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the United Kingdom-based think-tank Demos, in an interview with Al Jazeera, likened the misinformation currently flooding various channels as the second front in the world’s battle against the coronavirus.

“Were we to view this [pandemic] as a conflict, then we could talk about two fronts. The first is the public health reaction, and the second front are the waves of social and political chaos that have been caused by the virus and our response to it – this is a key battle on that front,” Miller said.

According to media watchdog, Ofcom, nearly half of all adults in the U.K. have been exposed to false claims or misleading information online about the coronavirus, referring to a survey they conducted that measured the public’s exposure to misinformation.

In a report published in April, Ofcom noted that while most people or 55 percent of the survey respondents are ignoring false claims about coronavirus, 40 percent have reported that they are finding it hard to know what is true or false about the virus and the pandemic.

“With so much false information circulating online, it’s never been more important that people can cut through the confusion and find accurate, trustworthy and credible sources of news and advice,” Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director for Strategy and Research, said.

Sources include:

NYPost.com

WPTV.com

MiamiHerald.com

Insider.com

FloridaHealthCOVID19.gov

News.UN.org

AlJazeera.com

Ofcom.org.uk


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