Fact Check: Photo Of Mannequin Being Wheeled Into Hospital Does NOT Prove A Coronavirus Cover-Up

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Photo Of Mannequin Being Wheeled Into Hospital Does NOT Prove A Coronavirus Cover-Up No Cover-Up

Does a photo of a mannequin being wheeled into a New York hospital prove a cover-up about hospital overcrowding and the high death toll due to the coronavirus outbreak? No, that's not true. The picture of the dummy on a stretcher going into a hospital is an actual photo, but it's from the U.S. Navy. It shows sailors practicing transferring patients from a pier in New York City onto the USNS Comfort hospital ship in support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts.

The claim appeared as a post (archived here) by Brandon Browser on Facebook on April 5, 2020, under the title "Please pray for this mannequin being wheeled into a new York hospital." It opened:

Are we being lied to?

Not that the Corona virus isn't real but the media is making as much out of this as possible even if it means lying about the numbers and using actors and props just to get the pictures and the press that they need.

May this mannequin RIP.

Social media users saw this:

There is not a cover-up about COVID-19 hospitalizations and victims numbers. As of April 6, 2020, there were more than 74,000 global deaths and nearly 10,700 deaths in the United States due to the virus.

The picture in the Facebook post is an actual photo from March of the United States Navy conducting a training exercise amid the crisis in New York City. The city and New York state, as well as its hospitals, have been massively hit by the virus.

Even so, the photograph, which had been cropped from the original, has been posted many times on Facebook and has received hundreds of shares as people doubted that the hospitals were being truthful about the number of patients seeking emergency care during the pandemic.

Tina Marrin also posted the photo and, with 190 shares, she wrote a note to her followers about what she belived she was seeing:


One poster claimed the coronavirus was "a pandemic to manage and cover up the worldwide economic crash that is happening."

Several others refused to believe it was a mannequin. "Looks like a human arm to me," one person wrote.

The truth is, the photograph originated from the United States Navy on March 31, 2020, and took just a few days to go viral as conspiracies grew surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

It was provided by DVIDS - Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. Petty Officer 2nd Class Sara Eshleman of the U.S. 2nd Fleet posted the photograph showing the mannequin strapped onto a stretcher.

NEW YORK (March 31, 2020) - US Navy Sailors practice patient transfer from the pier onto the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) as they prepare to admit patients in support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts. Comfort will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore-based hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense's missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman).

The photograph going round on Facebook is tightly cropped to cut out the background showing more soldiers wearing PPE and tending to the mannequin as they run a drill to practice transporting patients to the Navy hospital ship docked in the harbor.

The Navy ship is intended to serve patients that are not infected with COVID-19 to relieve area ERs to focus on the influx of coronavirus cases hitting the city and state.

According to The New York Times the coronavirus outbreak, while seemingly dropping some in New York recently, is still straining area hospitals' capabilities.

β€’ Deaths in New York State: 4,758, up 599 from 4,159 on Sunday [April 5, 2020] morning.
β€’ Confirmed cases: 130,689, up from 122,031. In New York City, 72,181, up from 67,551.
β€’ Hospitalized in New York State: 16,837, up 2 percent from 16,479 on Sunday. It was the third straight day of single-digit percentage growth, after a long period when hospitalizations were growing 20 to 30 percent a day.

Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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