Mr. Falwell echoes Mr. Trump’s talking points on the coronavirus, which he often calls the “flu.”
“It’s just strange to me how many are overreacting” to the pandemic, Mr. Falwell said on “Fox & Friends” on March 10. “It makes you wonder if there is a political reason for that. Impeachment didn’t work and the Mueller report didn’t work and Article 25 didn’t work, and so maybe now this is their next attempt to get Trump.”
Lynchburg is particularly ill-prepared to become a hot spot. Hospitals in the region have a total of 1,174 beds, only 55 of them intensive care, according to a recent analysis by the Harvard Global Health Institute. Those must serve 217,000 adults, nearly 50,000 of whom are 65 or older. Tests for the coronavirus remain in short supply.
Mr. Falwell has played down the dangers of his decision in interviews with the news media, where he has even suggested that the coronavirus is a North Korean bioweapon. On Fox News, he blithely asserted that the cure rate for Covid-19 “is 99.7 percent for people under 50,” adding, “We have talked to medical professionals, numerous medical professionals, before we made this decision.”
An archived version of Liberty’s website said those medical professionals included the school’s own public health faculty and campus health providers, as well as “Dr. Jeffrey Hyman of Northwell Health, New York’s largest health care provider.”
When contacted by The New York Times, Northwell Health denied that Dr. Hyman provided any formal guidance to Liberty, adding that he is not an infectious disease specialist. In a statement, the hospital system said that Dr. Hyman was a personal friend of the Falwell family, who told them in private conversation “that reconvening classes would be a ‘bad idea.’”
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