As hundreds of new COVID-19 cases were being reported daily and Bakersfield hospitals were filling to capacity two weeks ago, two local doctors and their Bakersfield marketing representative were in the nation's capital sharing controversial claims about the virus in a video on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The video was retweeted by President Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., and spread like wildfire online, garnering millions of views before it was removed by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for what the social media companies said was spreading misinformation about the coronavirus. It featured a dozen doctors who were part of a group called America's Frontline Doctors, wearing white coats and taking turns promoting hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 and downplaying precautions like mask-wearing and shutdowns to stem the spread of the virus. The doctors gave their names but provided few details about where they work.

Among them were Dan Erickson and Simone Gold, who both practice in Bakersfield, and off-camera was Angela Barton, who owns a local marketing company.

LOCAL CONNECTIONS

Erickson gained widespread attention in April when he and a business partner, both physicians and owners in a chain of urgent care clinics, said that the coronavirus was no more serious than the flu and that lockdowns weren't necessary. A video of those statements was also widely spread on social media and later taken down by YouTube.

Erickson told The Californian on Saturday that the D.C. trip also included a less publicized six-hour information session where the doctors shared research on their respective fields. He said he spoke during the session about the negative impacts of the shutdown orders on people with mental illness, family violence, suicide and substance abuse problems. He said video from that meeting was also removed from social media.

"We're dealing with a topic where there's been a lot of inconsistency. I think everybody can see that," Erickson said of the virus. "What we haven't heard from in our society is physicians. ... So we got doctors from all over the country to say what are you telling patients. We're the people actually dealing with this ... and here's what we found."

Erickson said the group also met with multiple senators and officials while in D.C., including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, to talk about medical care in general and provide physicians' perspectives on the pandemic.

Asked last week about the doctors event in D.C., McCarthy responded in a statement: “Americans have a right to express their beliefs and opinions. During this pandemic, I believe people should be informed and practice the best precautions, including social distancing and mask guidelines."

Gold, who featured prominently in the video at the U.S. Supreme Court and founded the America's Frontline Doctors group, works in the emergency department at Adventist Health Bakersfield. The hospital said last week Gold is part of its medical staff through a contract the hospital has with physicians group Sound Physicians Emergency Medicine of Southern California, PC. Sound Physicians confirmed Gold has worked for the group as a part-time, independent contractor.

Gold could not be reached for comment.

In the video, Gold promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine as an effective treatment for the virus and decried efforts to prevent doctors from prescribing it. Gold also questioned the need for masks.

While some small initial studies appeared to show positive results with hydroxychloroquine, a more recent large-scale trial showed the drug had no added benefit to COVID-19 patients in comparison to standard treatment, according to the Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House adviser on COVID-19 and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The FDA also says there "ongoing reports of serious cardiac adverse events" associated with the drug's use.

“On trials that are valid, that were randomized and controlled in the proper way, all of those trials show consistently that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of coronavirus disease or COVID-19,” Fauci said during an interview on MSNBC on July 29. President Trump, however, has continued to tout the drug as effective against the virus.

Gold has spoken on Fox News and other conservative talk shows since the D.C. news conference, saying that she was given a hard time by her employer for prescribing hydroxychloroquine and was fired from her job after she appeared in the video. The Californian could not independently confirm her firing.

Doctors from other parts of the country also spoke in the video, including Houston-based doctor Stella Immanuel, who claimed hydroxychloroquine was a cure for COVID-19.

Immanuel was later linked to religious videos posted on YouTube in which she talked about alien DNA being used in medical treatments and witches and demons being responsible for certain medical conditions.

ERICKSON’S TAKE ON THE VIRUS

In the interview with The Californian on Saturday, Erickson stuck by his statements in late April that COVID-19 is no worse than the flu despite a massive uptick in the virus locally and nationwide.

Back then, Kern County had about 1,000 cases of COVID-19, 30 virus-related hospitalizations and four deaths. As of Saturday, local cases exceeded 22,000, hospitalizations were at about 270, and deaths stood at 171, according to state and county data.

"What I told people back in April was that most people we test and follow have minimal symptoms and almost all of them get better with no hospitalization," Erickson said. "That was true in April, that's true today."

Those statements in April drew strong rebuke at the time from health experts, including the the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine.

Erickson's chain of Accelerated Urgent Care locations were among the first medical establishments in Kern County to test for the virus. He said the company has done 28,000 COVID-19 tests so far with about a 15 percent positive rate.

Erickson said local hospital CEOs he's spoken to say COVID-19 accounts for about 15 percent of hospitalizations. Hospital leaders recently told The Californian there is a rise in both COVID-19 and non-virus-related hospitalizations. However, the message from public health officials has always been that virus cases must be kept at bay so hospitals aren't overwhelmed as they are now and can continue to care for all patients who need hospitalization.

Erickson said he feels fear has gripped American society and people are scared to seek medical treatment for non-COVID issues. He is also alarmed by efforts to undermine the doctor-patient relationship and by the inconsistencies in government mandates related to the virus.

"I can ride in an airplane to D.C. but can't sit in church," he said.

He mentioned signs recently posted on beaches in Southern California that said masks were required by law.

"Your freedoms and your republic are under attack," he said.

POLITICAL CONNECTIONS

The video and the doctors in it appear to have connections with conservative groups. It aired live on Breitbart News and featured an introduction from a founder of Tea Party Patriots, a political organization known for its affiliation with the tea party movement and other conservative groups and its role in mobilizing opposition at healthcare town halls held throughout the county in 2009.

The Associated Press in May reported on a leaked call between the Trump campaign and a conservative group with ties to Tea Party Patriots in which an effort was discussed to recruit doctors who support President Trump's push to reopen the economy.

Barton Marketing Group, which lists local Republican groups among its clients on its website, helped develop a marketing strategy for America's Frontline Doctors.

"Barton Marketing Group was hired to raise brand awareness for (America's Frontline Doctors), in which we were successful," Barton said in the statement.

A post on the marketing company's Facebook page said the company "created a strategy to support the goals, including ground work such as logo design and apparel, and further elevated the (America's Frontline Doctors) platform with social media networking and management, video production and global media attention."

The Facebook post also features behind-the-scenes photos of the event in D.C. and a photo of Barton, Gold and Erickson standing with McCarthy.

McCarthy spokeswoman Brittany Martinez said of the photo: "The Congressman enjoys meeting with constituents, and listens to a variety of beliefs and opinions.”

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(61) comments

proto

Reading the vitriolic comments in this stream was a disgusting journey through one's worst dream of what America has become - and does not offer much hope for a future of ever working together. Additionally many of the responses are about as infantile as you can get. Do you think the conservatives should live in one nation and the progressives in a completely separate nation? If so, do you think they would go to war?

Vico17

It comes down to different values proto. Ask yourself what do the liberals/progressives/Dems value. Choice: being able to kill the indefensible without repercussions. Carpe diem, live for today, don't worry about tomorrow. The commune is the family, the traditional nuclear family is passé. Disrespect for the elderly, seen as a burden and weak. Anti- Christianity. Big government will/should take care of all your needs. Etc. The truly fiscal and social Conservatives value life, especially in the womb when life begins and is at its most vulnerable. They plan for the future, today. The traditional family is foremost and cherished. They know this nation was founded by Judeo-Christian thought. The contributions of those who have seen a lifetime of events are honored, as is the US Flag, history and the nation to it's demarcations and borders--respecting all other nations beyond, who follow the rule of law. They are ready to defend these values by taking up arms, not just abroad but to defend the home, guaranteed by the Constitution i.e. 2A. Etc.

I hope this helps. I could spend a couple hours pointing out differences, and a few minutes showcasing similarities, but, you know this blog is limiting. Good luck.

Zeppo

Beautiful explanation, Vico! The problem is that the so-called "progressives" will not listen nor comprehend what you are saying, or refuse to. It's really sad that they do not realize what would happen to this country if all their ideas would come to pass.....

Masked 2020

Naked Don had to hide in the Bunker......again....Trump rushed out of press briefing after Secret Service shoot ‘armed suspect’ outside White House

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Yuckies: And your post has what to do with this article?

Oh yeah- like usual-- NOTHING...

Beth

Science is never settled. Understanding that science demands debate, testing and retesting. These Dr.s are brave to stand up, demanding debate and transparency. #Semmelweis

Zeppo

Agreed! There should be no place in science for politics.

N6532l

https://youtu.be/rPmFbtH-nEQ

If this is the criteria then of what value is the data and what is the value of a decision based on this data? Garbage in garbage out!

Vico17

Thank you N65. By their own words they admit what we have been saying for months. There should be a distinction between "dying from" and "dying with" Covid-19, aka Chinese Flu. This is not science, it's politics.

Abuse and political pandering was bound to happen when $$ was attached to Covid-positive cases.

DDBAKO

I tested positive in March and my doctor prescribed hydroxychloroquine and within a few days I knew I was going to be okay. Grateful my doctor was proactive. It’s effective if used early and probably could have saved a lot of lives. If you get Covid you might change your mind about everything.

Zeppo

Thank you for the site you provided.

Lilyrose

Ddbako:. You know you just lied, dude. ..

Zeppo

Is anyone who disagrees with you automatically someone who lies? What a sad way to live.....

Airbrushjay

You know you just lied about ddbako......

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Lilyrose: Go back to whining about how the oil industry is killing the planet- it's what you're best at...

DDBAKO

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/08/04/an_effective_covid_treatment_the_media_continues_to_besmirch_143875.html

Pitbullll

Funny how liberal Useful Idiots are suddenly smarter than doctors when it conflicts with their propaganda.

Erickson and Gold are two of many doctors touting the thousands of cases they themselves successfully treated with Hydroxychloroquine. These doctors appear nightly on Fox News. But lefties are too steeped in agitprop and listening to Sanjay Gupta and Anderson scooper to notice.

Note to libs:

Stay home, wear your mask and please don’t ask for HCQ if you get COVID. But don’t worry, Joe Biden will save you from everything Obama forgot to save you from.

JR

I think it's telling that doctors like Gold and Erickson refuse interviews because they just want to hit and run and make outrageous crazy statements but not have to answer legitimate questions regarding their beliefs. I guess doctors can be as wrong and nutty as anyone else.

Zeppo

Think about it: What would be a reason that they would lie about this?

Airbrushjay

Do your thoughts apply to Biden?

JR

People, including doctors, sound like petulant children who don't like being told by their parents to wash their hands before eating. I guess some of those children, never grow up. They get older, but they don't grow up.

Lilyrose

Bakersfield and Brazil.....

I rather emulate New Zealand.

But cleanliness isn't in the DNA of Bakersfield.

Mangoman

It's Trump and the Trump administration that are breaking the law the very laws they put into place and spreading misinformation. Whoever can't see that is blind or just turning their head to the corruption. This has nothing to do with Republicans or democrats, because as we've see the majority of the Republicans are against Trump also. Just look at the videos and information that the Lincoln project and Republicans against Trump are releasing. This is not a matter of opinion just look at the science.

Vico17

Cuckoo, cuckoo.

Bodysnatcher

Exactly Vico. The Lincoln Project is an attempt to rewrite history. Anyone falling for this stunt is a pure idiot.

Zeppo

So you are perfectly happy with seeing rioting, looting, defunding the police, etc.? It is you who are delusional.

JR

Your username is appropriately taken from the Three Stooges. Good choice. But you're wrong about the rioting, looting. The protesters are being attacked by racist groups and the police and god knows what other military forces Trump sent to disperse them and so he can call them exactly what you, so dumbly repeat.

Zeppo

You are clueless...............and you know nothing about where my name comes from! Go back to Southfork!

The Independent Voter

LOL! Moe, Larry, Curly and, of course, Zeppo. LOL!!! JR has got it going on... HAHAHA!!!

Bodysnatcher

Three Stooges? You’re a heathen to even broach the comedic genius of The Three Stooges and confuse the Marx Bros with them.

Airbrushjay

Jeez dude....drink some more cool aid and watch the three stooges and let me know when you see Zeppo.....

JR

Your right, except that the conspiracy and hoax theorists are looking at it reasonably or logically. They have some kind of psychopathy, manifested in deep rooted anger and rage. Or just dumb and uneducated.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

"the majority of the Republicans are against Trump also." Not by any polls I've seen. Please produce your polling source...

Airbrushjay

And Hillery will win in a landslide......

Masked 2020

Legumedude ...give us all a break.....its a deadly plague........ExtrafirmTofuBoy.

Moardeeb

Quacks are always going to be around. If your dumb enough to believe them so be it. We've got a snake oil salesman in the White House so they feel empowered. Take hydroxycloroquine Trump supporters. By the bucketsfull!

Bodysnatcher

We will while you and your ilk suffer from your own stupidity.

The Independent Voter

My foot, Masked. It's a hyperflu coopted to be something more by socialists on the move with an agenda. So much of this doesn't make sense. But I understand the need of nasty lefties like you and Dweeb to buy into this for political reasons, right down to the condemnations of Trump's response to the virus, despite the fact that any missteps lie at the feet of state governors, who have ran this thing with an iron fist. It's too obvious.

Zeppo

The people on the Left love to call Repubs. names (relating to who controlled Germany in the 1930's -- that's right, I'm not allowed to use the word), yet they employ the exact same tactics, trying to eliminate certain books, movies, what you can and cannot say without being censored, trying to erase our history, etc.

JR

Would you mind sharing your medical qualifications with us? I'd like to know what med school you went to. Where you served your residency. And what papers on epidemiology you're written and published in AMA or JAMA. And which science research labs have you studied viruses at. Thank you and I wait for your reply.

Bodysnatcher

How about you start sharing your medical qualifications first JR? That’s what I thought. The only medical qualification you have is in a box of bandaids.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

So, in JR's world, to have an opinion on something, you have to be an "expert" in the field?

Guess that means we'll be seeing fewer posts from you in the future then, if you're true to your standards...SMH

Legumedude

Regardless of one's opinion about the effectiveness of various treatment options, the fact that the video was banned from social media is a matter of great concern to me and it should be to others, as well. Big Brother is not, at the moment, Big Government. Rather, Big Brother is Big Tech - Facebook, Twitter and Google. The Left supports its Narrative through suppressing information that contradicts The Narrative. This suppression is done through the mainstream media and Big Tech platforms. If Democrats are elected to this year, the federal government will join in the process of driving The Narrative. I would also point out the author's bias. She quotes one of the physicians who has some bizarre opinions, with the implication that the medical opinions of the group as a whole are invalid. Also if the Dr. Gold was fired for expressing her opinion, she has great cause for a wrongful termination lawsuit, in my opinion.

Zeppo

From what I see, the Democrats are fine with censoring speech, fire-bombs in major cities, businesses being looted and burned, etc. If the Democrats get control, we will be living in h ell, or a country not unlike China where they make people "disappear" for making statements they disapprove of.

Vico17

Exactly. As long as "they" are in control of the people breaking the rules, "they" are fine with breaking any law.

She Dee

Zeppo- You do realize that not all Democrats are causing the problems, don't you? We have a few "crazies" in our party, just like the Republicans have in theirs. So, please don't attempt to paint us all with your broad stroke thinking.

Zeppo

Then why do we not hear any who disagree with all the lawlessness that's occurring?

Lamonster

@Zeppo--the reason we don't hear any who disagree is because those crazies are OUR (Dem) crazies, and because any criticism will from us (Dems) will put a target on OUR backs. The line must be toed

Dog

Spot on.

EwwBako

Well Angela Barton sounds like a lovely person. [huh]

FWH3372

Biden will save us all........ha ha ha

Zeppo

Whether the doctors are conservative or liberal is not the point. They are doing this because they have personally seen the results on their patients. Dr. Immanuel said she had never lost a patient from covid and treated over 300 of them for it. I am suspicious of others because they may have a financial interest in downplaying the use of such an inexpensive pill. Too many patients have been helped, in the early stages of covid, with hydroxychloroquine. Even Dr. Siegel's 90 yr. old father was saved by using it, and recovered. I prefer ANECDOTAL info, rather than "studies."

Dog

This article displays typical bias of thr press. Why aren't reports against the use of hydroxychloroquine controversial? It's only those promoting hydroxychloroquine who get tagged ad being controversial.

Pitbullll

The dishonesty of liberals really is shameful. Almost as bad as their stupidity and ignorance.

Moardeeb

Nutbags.

PopTart

You could use a set...

Veritas

I think you might have offended her....

Zeppo

I certainly hope so.......

Airbrushjay

Ha! Good one.....it cant spell its name correctly also if it is referring to "Dune". I stand corrected if not.

Vico17

Be careful Air, his name is a killing word. He could burn your internal organs with just a whisper.

Gene Pool Chlorinator

@Airbrush: You mean Paul Muad'Dib?

That would be a pretty big miss, but considering the source...

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