Dr. Joseph Fair was the poster adult for NBC News’ COVID-19 coverage. He’s a doctor. He took ill and had to be hospitalized. The symptoms all looked like the coronavirus.
This much we know: Fair was very sick. He checked into the hospital, according to NBC’s reporting, after he could take in only 25 percent of the oxygen he was trying to breathe.
During a May 14 appearance from his hospital bed, he said he caught the virus through his eyes on a flight to New Orleans, because the airline “had us packed in like sardines.”
“That’s one of the three known routes of getting this infection that we just don’t pay a lot of attention to. We tend to focus on the nose and mouth because that is the most common route,” Fair, clearly in extremis, said. “But you know, droplets landing on your eyes are just as infectious.”
“I am a very healthy person,” he said. “If it can take me down, it can take anybody down.”
As The Washington Free Beacon’s David Rutz noted, Fair appeared on NBC and MSNBC almost a dozen times to talk about his struggle with the virus.
For weeks, the networks chronicled his battle back from COVID-19. The one thing they didn’t chronicle often: whether he’d tested positive for it.
In his first appearance, Fair noted he’d tested negative for the virus four times. He had a reason for that, though — because he’d waited to go to the hospital so as not to contribute to overwhelming a stressed facility, the virus wasn’t at detectable levels. He’s the doctor, I’m not, so fair enough. (Pun unintended.)
However, if this was the coronavirus, he likely would test positive for the antibodies, too, as he pointed out in this June 14 appearance.
As stated, Fair tested negative four times and had a borderline result that wouldn’t be called a positive on the fifth coronavirus test. So we’re batting 0-for-5 at this point.
“I’ll have a definitive answer then whether it was COVID-19 or not,” he said. “And if it wasn’t, that brings up a whole new set of questions.”
I’m writing about this, so you can probably make some educated guesses about whether we have a whole new set of questions.
“My undiagnosed/suspected COVID illness from nearly 2 months ago remains an undiagnosed mystery as a recent antibody test was negative,” Fair said in a July 8 tweet.
“I had myriad COVID symptoms, was hospitalized in a COVID ward & treated for COVID-related co-morbidities, despite testing negative by nasal swab,” he continued.
“I was severely ill for 2 weeks, 4 days of it in critical condition, resulting in pneumonia, diffuse lung injury & 18lbs of weight loss. My path forward is a 2nd AB test, & follow-up with a pulmonologist & tropical medicine specialist in an effort to diagnose what made me so ill.”
I was severely ill for 2 weeks, 4 days of it in critical condition, resulting in pneumonia, diffuse lung injury & 18lbs of weight loss. My path forward is a 2nd AB test, & follow-up with a pulmonologist & tropical medicine specialist in an effort to diagnose what made me so ill.
— Dr. Joseph Fair (@curefinder) July 7, 2020
I was truly humbled by this experience and again thank you all for the support throughout.
— Dr. Joseph Fair (@curefinder) July 7, 2020
This isn’t to cast aspersions on Fair, a man who appeared to be in the throes of a serious illness that had distinct similarities to COVID-19. The doctor thought he had the coronavirus.
Given the protean nature of the coronavirus and potential inaccuracies in testing, his doctors treated him as if he had the virus.
NBC, however, was apparently taken with the grim serendipity that one of its own had COVID, even if he hadn’t tested positive. Its reports elided over that part as smoothly as possible. In the May 14 segment, Hoda Kotb said, “Every time [the tests] came back negative, but clearly you have it.”
Huntley-Brinkley rigor, this wasn’t.
It’s wholly possible that Fair was ill with the coronavirus. Testing is still a fickle thing. It’s unlikely that four tests came back negative, a fifth produced no result and an antibody test also produced nothing, though.
Ordinarily, it wouldn’t matter: Anything that put a healthy 42-year-old male in critical condition ought to be feared.
It apparently mattered to NBC that Fair had been put in the hospital specifically by the coronavirus, however.
We can understand why.
What we can’t understand is, when presented with four red lights in the form of the negative tests, why it chose to blow through every single one.
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