Fox host Sean Hannity is now spreading the newest conspiracy theory video by conservative activist James O’Keefe that alleges the official counts of coronavirus-related deaths are being inflated — supposedly by New York City authorities — in order to request more federal funding.
During the May 1 edition of his radio show, Hannity read from the New York Post about a litany of mistakes and mismanagement allegedly being made by New York state and city authorities — including a scandalous local story about dozens of dead bodies that were piled up in an unrefrigerated truck after a funeral home became overwhelmed. Hannity then pivoted to O’Keefe’s interviews with other funeral directors who declared their suspicions that COVID-19 was being misattributed as the cause of some deaths.
It’s odd that Hannity can simultaneously talk about bodies piling up beyond capacity in New York City and use this as an example to condemn the city’s mismanagement of the pandemic — all the while spreading a conspiracy theory that the causes of death for these bodies during the pandemic are being misattributed on some mass scale.
O’Keefe’s video featured interview clips with four funeral directors (one of whom remained nameless) in New York City, all claiming they believe that many deaths are being misattributed.
But even then, none of these sources claimed any sort of inside knowledge. One said, for example: “You know, yes, we do have a lot of deaths, I’m not going to say — we have been overwhelmed with them. But you start to say, how many of them are actually COVID-19?”
“This is my personal opinion,” said another. “I think, like, the mayor in our city, they’re looking for federal funding, and the more they put COVID on the death certificate, the more they can ask for federal funds. So, I think it’s political.”
The New York Post has indeed been covering the story of “between 40 and 60 bodies” that were found in an unrefrigerated U-Haul truck, and the story has resulted in state health officials suspending that funeral home’s license. (The U-Haul company also publicly cut ties with the business in question, according to TMZ.)
There was also an article in The New York Times this week on how the city’s entire infrastructure for handling the dead is being overwhelmed, which included a report on the same incident:
While hospitals bore the initial brunt of the crisis as sick people flooded emergency rooms, the sheer volume of human remains has pushed the system for caring for the dead to its limits, too: Hospital morgues, funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories are all overflowing and backed up.
The scale of the problem was brought into sharp relief on Wednesday afternoon, when the police found dozens of decomposing bodies stashed inside two trucks outside a funeral home on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn. The owner, Andrew T. Cleckley, said he had nowhere else to put them, adding simply: “I ran out of space.”