Yesterday, Donald Trump retweeted a tweet from Networking Vegas (@Networkinvegas) that showed an undated image of the novel coronavirus Alternate Care Site in the parking garage at Renown Medical Center in Reno. The President referred to the facility as “fake” and prompted strong responses from Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Reno Mayor Hillary Shieve.
Even though more than a quarter million Americans have died from the novel coronavirus and Trump campaign legal challenges to voting outcomes in Nevada and elsewhere have not prevailed in court, Trump continues to use the word “fake” to describe the pandemic and election results. The President’s tweet came with a qualification from Twitter.
In April of this year, Renown converted part of its parking garage into a 1,400-bed COVID-19 Alternate Care Site. The hospital never had to use the expanded capacity during the first wave of COVID-19 infections and resulting hospitalizations, but in mid-November, with a second surge in active cases, the hospital reported that patients are now being treated in the overflow facility. There are currently 42 patients in the Alternate Care Site.
According to the hospital, all of these patients have mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 and do not require intensive care. As of today, Tuesday, Dec. 1, there are 206 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 at Renown hospitals.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued the following statement in response to the President’s tweet and assertions that the Renown COVID-19 Alternate Care Site is fake.
“For nearly nine months, the State of Nevada has not only had to battle this pandemic, we have had to fight the President’s nonstop attempts to politicize a virus that has led to over 260,000 American deaths,” Governor Sisolak wrote in a press release and in a series of tweets.
“His consistent misleading rhetoric on COVID-19 is dangerous and reckless, and today’s implication that Renown’s alternate care site is a “fake hospital” is among the worst examples we’ve seen. It is unconscionable for him to continue to spread lies and sow distrust at a time when all Americans should be united during this historic public health crisis. Enough is enough.
“Nevada’s healthcare professionals continue to work around the clock to provide life-saving care to Nevadans during this pandemic, including standing up an alternate care site in a parking garage to ensure access to medical care for all those who need it.
“Renown Hospital has served as a pillar of strength for the Northern Nevada community throughout this pandemic, and especially during this current surge. Every day, their health care workers mask up, go to work, and care for Nevadans most in need. They too live with the fear of becoming infected and bringing this virus back home to their families, yet they have sat at bedsides holding the hands of patients so they wouldn’t have to be alone. They aren’t liars, as the President implied — they are heroes.
“I call on all leaders throughout Nevada – regardless of political affiliation – to join me in condemning the President’s attacks on the integrity of our healthcare workers.”
When asked in an email for comment on the President’s tweet, President and CEO of Renown Health Tony Slonim offered the following statement.
“The challenges presented to our community this year by COVID-19 have confirmed the critical role that Renown Health plays as a locally-owned, not-for-profit integrated health network. We are passionate about stepping up to serve our community at all times, and especially when we are needed most. We are transforming and implementing creative approaches to ensure patient care needs can be addressed and that we can meet the needs of our community. Every community member can feel confident that Renown has a specialty-trained team of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, medical assistants, care managers, and physical and occupational therapists around the clock, every day to ensure that, no matter the illness or injury, every patient will be treated with compassion and the appropriate degree of care.
“Renown is a place of hope and determination, health and healing. We care for each other. We love, we heal, we connect, we serve, we give back, and we invest in our people and our communities. We are thankful to our 7,000 Renown physicians and caregivers, community members and leaders who are also rising to the challenge to fight this virus and win.”
Reno Mayor Hillary Shieve released a pointed statement regarding the President’s tweet.
“I stand with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak in condemning the President’s attacks on the integrity of our healthcare workers. The hardworking men and women of our medical community are giving everything they can to keep our neighbors alive.
“It is abhorrent to me that anyone, let alone a president, spout lies that mock and demean patients fighting for their lives. The exceptional leaders at Renown have been forced into this unbelievable situation and I commend them for this heroic work.
“This is an attack on our community as we face this unprecedented challenge. This is exactly the inhumane and cavalier attitude that has cost thousands of Americans their lives.
“My heart breaks for our families and friends who have lost loved ones. I stand with the front-line workers who have given their bodies and souls to fight COVID-19.
“There are hundreds of patients fighting for their lives in Reno right now. That’s the very sad reality.
“Perhaps he should put the phone down, get off the golf cart, and come down to our hospitals and see for himself the reality which he blatantly chooses to not face.”