A misworded COVID-19-related tweet by a Brooklyn, USA-based hospital yesterday triggered a hastily-called media conference by President Paula-Mae Weekes.
The first tweet by the King’s County Hospital erroneously stated that it had welcomed the T&T President, who was recently on vacation in the United States, for a COVID-19 vaccine and that she was greeted by the hospital leadership team while she waited.
That tweet was later deleted but not before being widely shared on various social media platforms.
Hours later, the hospital posted an update saying that the President was in fact there for a COVID-19 PCR test.
But the damage was already done and President Weekes called a media conference at President’s House, St Ann’s, hours after she returned to the country to respond to the error.
Weekes said that it was brought to her attention when she landed that a tweet had created “something of a firestorm” locally.
“I am here in person to set the record straight and to say right off, from the beginning, the tweet was incorrect, insofar as it said that I went to the hospital for the purpose of being vaccinated,” Weeks said.
“On Monday this week, the 23, the hospital was very kind to accommodate me and two other members of the Office of the President staff who travelled with me to have our PCR tests done, so that we could comply with the rules and regulations of reentry,” she said.
“Let me say quite clearly that I have had two vaccinations done, the first was on April 6 and the second on June 7 at the Diego Martin Health Facility and the Paddock at the Queen’s Park Savannah respectively. I have had no other vaccine, booster or otherwise, nor has any other vaccine been suggested to me to take.”
She added, “So please let me make it clear, I had no vaccination in New York and what I did was the PCR test.
“I would take this opportunity to record my thanks to the King’s County Hospital, I understand that they have since corrected their tweet when we drew it to their attention.”
One of the persons who accompanied the President, Consul General Cheryl Paul, was virtually present at the media conference as a witness to the events.
Social media was quick to criticise and comment on the possibility that Weekes had gotten a third shot out of T&T after the tweet was posted online. Some people offered conspiracy theories that she never got a shot here in T&T at all but faked it in preference to getting her vaccines in the US.
Even after Weeks clarified the situation, some still questioned whether a hospital in the US would make that sort of error and also release information on a patient, while others simply said that something was not adding up. Others called for evidence of her PCR test, while some questioned why the incident was even news.
The Office of the President does not often hold media conferences to clarify such issues in the public domain. However, back in September 2016, former President Anthony Carmona also called a media conference to clarify information about wine that bore the Presidential seal.