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Fact check: More than 40 patients receiving treatment in converted hospital parking garage

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 12/3/2020 Camille Caldera, USA TODAY
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The claim: A hospital in Nevada converted a parking structure into a coronavirus ward

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to share a tweet claiming that a photo of a parking garage that had been converted to a coronavirus care site at Renown Regional Medical Center in Nevada was fake.

Danielle Paradise, a nurse at the Reno hospital, found Trump's tweet "absolutely infuriating." So she turned to Facebook to correct the record.

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"This 'fake' Nevada hospital parking garage is 100% real; I know this because this is my hospital," she wrote. "We are currently bursting at the seams with extremely sick Covid patients. Everyday we are operating well over capacity. We have multiple Covid units; one of them being our parking garage."

Paradise has not responded to a request from USA TODAY for comment.

Claim spread from Nevada to the White House in a series of tweets

It all started on Sunday, when Dr. Jacob Keeperman tweeted a photo of himself in the parking garage hospital ward.

"I want to thank all the incredible staff who are Fighting the Good Fight to help all those suffering from COVID-19," he wrote. "With 5 deaths in the last 32 hours, everyone is struggling to keep their head-up. Stay strong."

On Monday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak retweeted the photo and added a message of gratitude for Keeperman and other health care workers.

"I am thankful every day for the doctors, nurses and other first responders in the State who continue to work selflessly on behalf of all of us," Sisolak wrote.

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Soon after, another account — NetworkinVegas.com, which says it is a "source for finding out what's going on in Vegas" — tweeted the photo of Keeperman as purported proof that the garage hospital was "a scam."

"Here is the fake Nevada parking garage hospital picture that our moron governor tweeted, proving it’s all a scam," the account wrote. "No patients, folded up beds, wrapped up equipment that’s never been used! They spent millions on this scam and never seen a single patient in this fake hospital!"

And on Tuesday, that post was retweeted by Trump, who added, "Fake election results in Nevada, also!"

Renown Health currently treating over 40 patients in parking structure ward

Renown Health confirmed to the Reno Gazette Journal on Tuesday that it was providing care to 42 patients at its alternative care site.

Renown Health CEO Tony Slonim also previously posted a video interview with a patient who was receiving care in the parking structure.

The users who claimed the hospital was a "scam" based the falsehood on a few details in the photo of Keeperman — like the fact that there were "no patients, folded up beds," and "wrapped up equipment."

That's because Keeperman took the photo on Nov. 12, just after the hospital finished its renovations on the site, a few minutes before patients started to arrive.

“I was so impressed with the facility,” he told the Washington Post. “I took that picture to share with my colleagues throughout the country what had been done here.”

In the following few weeks, Keeperman and his staff treated nearly 200 patients infected with COVID-19 — so he didn't have much time to post the photo.

After a number of his patients died, he took to Twitter on Nov. 29 to share the photo and a message of encouragement to other health care workers.

Keeperman said he was "disappointed" and "completely caught off guard" that the president shared his photo for political purposes.

“My tweet was a nonpolitical, nonpartisan message thanking health-care workers, and it was turned into something that it was never meant to be," he said.

Our rating: True

Based on our research, the claim that a hospital in Nevada converted a parking structure into a coronavirus ward is TRUE. The hospital confirmed on Tuesday that it is currently treating over 40 patients in the parking-garage-turned-care-site.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: More than 40 patients receiving treatment in converted hospital parking garage

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