Beaumont Doctor Apologizes, Says Many of His Claims About Coronavirus Were "exaggerated and untrue'

March 21, 2020, 11:31 AM by  Allan Lengel


On Friday night we posted a story about a Beaumont doctor, Patrick Wiater, who wrote a memo to people he knew, warning that the novel coronavirus was impacting more young adults than people realized.

"The ICU in the hospital is full of young adults on ventilators fighting for their lives," he wrote.

His message was posted on social media, including another doctor's Facebook page and on a patient of Dr. Wiater's page. 

On Friday night, Beaumont hospital issued a statement saying that 90 percent of the coronavirus patients in its eight hospitals were over the age of 40, which we included in the story. The hospital did not provide data for the Royal Oak hospital.

On Saturday, Dr. Wiater issued a statement through Beaumont: 

"Beaumont’s ICUs are not full of young people on ventilators. In reality, much of what I wrote in that text message is exaggerated and untrue. During this time of crisis, truth and accuracy are more important than ever. I sincerely apologize for sharing false information."

The doctor wasn't wrong by ringing an alarm about the number of young people infected in the county. The median age of the 229 people infected in Oakland County as of Saturday morning is 27, according to Oakland County officials (the age range is 7 months to 92 years). The age range of those hospitalized is 31-92,

I apologize as well for publishing this without vetting it better. Click here to read a full apology. -- Allan Lengel, editor

Original post, Friday night:  

Dr. Patrick J. Wiater, an orthopedic trauma doctor at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, warns that young people, not just the elderly, are being impacted by the novel coronavirus in Michigan.

The spread of the disease is much worse than reported, he adds.

Beaumont Hospital responded to the post late Friday night, saying the bulk of cases in its eight hospitals involve patients over 40. (The detailed response is at the bottom of this story). 

State data shows that of the 549 cases confirmed by Friday, 44 patients (8 percent) are 20-29 years old. (Age breakdowns shown in table below.) 

In a harrowing dispatch posted on several Facebook pages, and obtained by Deadline Detroit from a Beaumont employee, the doctor writes:

Hi everyone. Hope all is well.

I implore you to take this COVID19 seriously. It is real. Society is teeming with it. The numbers you see in media are the tip of the iceberg.

The ICU in the hospital is full of young adults on ventilators fighting for their lives.

A medical assistant I work with is COVID19 positive on a vent.  She is otherwise healthy person in her twenties.  We are seeing mostly young people coming into the hospital with their lungs destroyed by this virus. The media made it sound like the biggest risk was elderly. Probably true but in Michigan it's hitting young adults hard.  

Sequester you and your families away from everyone. Don't leave your house. Don't have any social interactions with anyone.  

Keep your parents isolated.  Incubation can be up to 14 days.   Anyone who has not been isolated for 14 days is a risk to you.

It is estimated that 150 million in us will have it over next 10-14 days.   I believe it. Southeast Michigan is festering with it now.

Hopefully this comes across as alarmist. This virus is horrible.

Stay safe.


(Source: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services)

► Update, 11:15 p.m. Friday: Mark Geary, head of media relations for Beaumont, says in a statement:

90% of the COVID-19 patients being cared for at Beaumont’s eight hospitals are over the age of 40. This is consistent with what other health systems across the nation are experiencing. As the CDC has stated, older adults are at higher risk for severe illness after becoming infected with COVID-19.


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