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A group of about 75 doctors from multiple hospitals in South Florida held a news conference to encourage community members to get vaccinated and wear masks.
The event was not a protest or a walkout. It took place around 6 a.m., before office hours, and physicians who attended either came before the start of their shifts or after, doctors who participated told PolitiFact. Local hospital officials confirmed there was no delay in patient care.
It’s no secret that Florida is in the middle of its most serious outbreak of the pandemic. The state is averaging around 150,000 new COVID-19 cases per week as of mid-August, and nearly 16,900 people in the state are hospitalized with the disease.
In response to the dire situation, a group of doctors from multiple hospitals in South Florida held a news conference to urge people in the community to get vaccinated and wear masks.
"We are all here together with one simple message that can save your life: please go get vaccinated and wear a mask," Dr. Jennifer Buczyner, a neurologist who organized the event, said Aug. 23. "A large majority of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. Many of these patients have decided not to get vaccinated but when they are hospitalized they tell us they wish they had."
But misleading headlines and social media posts sought to undermine the group’s message by falsely claiming that the physicians had "walked off" the job in "protest" while patients needed their care and suffered.
"75 doctors in #SouthFlorida walkout in protest as their hospital is flooded with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients," read one post shared widely on Instagram.
Conservative show host Dan Bongino said in a Facebook video that he was "disgusted" by the doctors and that he "strongly recommends" that they leave the profession.
The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed (read more about our partnership with Facebook), and both used a misleading clip from MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" to illustrate their point.
The network covered the conference the morning it occurred, but inaccurately referred to it as a walk out, displaying an on-screen chyron that read: "SOUTH FLORIDA DOCTORS WALK OUT IN PROTEST."
She said the misleading reports came "at the expense of a very caring medical community who attempted to come out with a very heartfelt message.Frankly, it was insulting to us all," she said.
Social media posts claim that about 75 doctors in South Florida walked out in protest as their hospital was overrun with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
This is wrong.
The event was an early-morning news conference to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations and mask-wearing. It wasn’t a protest or a walkout. The doctors who participated either came before the start of their shifts, or after.
We rate this False.
Instagram post, Aug. 23, 2021
Facebook post, Aug. 24, 2021
MSNBC Morning Joe, Aug. 23, 2021
MSNBC Morning Joe transcript, Aug. 24, 2021
Palm Beach Post, 'The face of COVID is the person standing next to you': 70-plus doctors urge the hesitant to get vaccine, Aug. 23, 2021
Associated Press, FACT FOCUS: Florida Doctors Did Not Walk off the Job, Aug. 24, 2021
Email interview, Shelly Weiss Friedberg public relations director at Tenet Healthcare, and Ryan Lieber public relations manager at Tenet Healthcare, Aug. 25, 2021
Phone/Email interview with Dr. Jennifer Buczyner, neurologist and stroke director for Jupiter Medical Center, Aug. 25, 2021
Email interview, MSNBC spokesperson, Aug. 25, 2021
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