Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 3, 2020

Photo of a Florida ‘intern’ in hazmat suit due to coronavirus is from a parody Facebook account

If Your Time is short

  • The image was posted by a self-described parody account. 

The photo in a Facebook post shows someone wearing what looks like a poor-man’s Walter White Halloween costume. Between the mitts, hood jumpsuit and face mask, no bare skin is visible. 

"Doctor’s Hospital of Sarasota has been notified by the National Center for DIsease Control & Public Health, Georgia (NCDC & PH) that they have a patient that has tested positive for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)," reads the March 1 post published by an account called Sarasota County. "Doctor’s Hospital takes the safety of their employees and caregivers very seriously and has placed the infected in isolation until they can repair the furnace in the morgue that will be used for treatment. Pictured below is our newest intern, Carlos, wearing our government issued Saint Laurent hazardous materials suit which can be purchased directly from their website or on sale from with discount code ‘SRQ69’ while supplies last."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed, and Facebook users flagged the post as potentially false news. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The post is false. It’s a bad attempt at a joke that uses real information to heighten fears about the new coronavirus. 

The Florida Department of Health announced on March 1 that there are two presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Florida, including one patient being treated at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota County.

Featured Fact-check

A letter Doctors Hospital sent to patients and staff on March 1 says that the hospital "has been notified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that we have a patient in our facility who presumptively tested positive for COVID-19." There is, of course, no mention of a furnace or a morgue. 

The post from the page "Sarasota County" could easily be misinterpreted to be a real update about the situation at Doctors Hospital. 

And while the text is a bit odd, you’d have to visit the page’s About section to find that it’s a self-described parody account. Sarasota County’s actual Facebook page is here. But the post on parody account blends factual information with jokes that not everyone is getting, especially as the post is reshared on other Facebook pages.

The "intern" in the photograph appears to actually be a taxi driver in Siberia who donned the protective gear to help make people laugh amid global panic over the coronavirus, the Siberian Times reported.    

We rate this Facebook post False.


Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Photo of a Florida ‘intern’ in hazmat suit due to coronavirus is from a parody Facebook account

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up