Fred Piccolo, spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis, deactivated his Twitter account Wednesday after he tweeted in the middle of night that photos of each dead COVID-19 victim should be balanced with 99 photos of people who survive the disease.
In response to a Reuters photo gallery on COVID-19, Piccolo wrote, “I’m wondering since 99% [of] Covid patients survive shouldn’t you have 99 photos of survivors for every one fatality? Otherwise you’re just trying to create a narrative that is not reality.”
According to screenshots captured by Miami Herald reporter Ben Conarck and WLRN reporter Danny Rivero, Piccolo was responding at about 4 a.m. to a tweet by Corinne Perkins, the North America editor for Reuters Pictures.
“This thread is dedicated to those saying we aren’t seeing images of the reality of COVID-19 in hospitals across the U.S.,” Perkins wrote. “This is not an exhaustive list but I wanted to highlight the stories @reuterspictures photographers bring to light.”
Piccolo’s account was deactivated shortly after the controversial tweet. Piccolo told the Sun Sentinel Wednesday he had already planned to leave the social media site.
“I’ve made people far angrier with other things in the past, this is just an observation that I think was worthy of consternation,” Piccolo said of his last tweet. “But I said this was going to be my Christmas gift to myself to get off of the medium, so I said let’s do it.”
Piccolo, who had formerly served as the spokesman for the Florida House Speaker’s office, has gained notoriety for his often acerbic Twitter account that has pushed misinformation about the coronavirus.
Piccolo questioned the efficacy of mask-wearing and mask mandates at least 16 times, a Sun Sentinel report found, and has claimed that COVID-19 is less deadly than the flu at least three times.
About 3,200 people followed Piccolo on Twitter, and while he identifies himself as DeSantis’s spokesman, he didn’t appear to use it as an official messaging channel. Piccolo said Floridians can get information about DeSantis on Twitter from the governor’s official account.