CBS News report featuring Grand Rapids clinic under scrutiny

Grand Rapids

The drive-up testing site at Cherry Health in Grand Rapids. (April 9, 2020)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A news report that aired on national television is facing scrutiny after purportedly showing video of a staged COVID-19 testing line in Grand Rapids.

The report aired Friday on “CBS This Morning.” The news story showed video of a line of cars at Cherry Health’s drive-up coronavirus testing site in downtown Grand Rapids. 

A report by Project Veritas exposed that the line wasn’t full of patients and that Cherry Health staffers were asked to join the line to make the testing site look busier than it actually was.

Project Veritas is a conservative organization that has become known for using undercover methods to highlight liberal bias in news media. Its tactics have come under scrutiny.

In a statement to News 8, CBS News said Cherry Health admitted to staging the line without the network’s knowledge. CBS has removed the Cherry Health portion of its report online.

“CBS News did not stage anything at the Cherry Health facility. Any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. These allegations are deeply disturbing,” a statement from CBS reads in part. “We reached out to Cherry Health to address them immediately. They informed us for the first time that one of their chief officers told at least one staffer to get in the testing line along with real patients. No one from CBS News had any knowledge of this…”

Cherry Health released a statement on the topic Wednesday afternoon.

“Though the Project Veritas report claims the CBS video showing a line of cars was staged; to my knowledge CBS This Morning did not stage any part of their visit, and I did not instruct any of our staff to get in their cars as part of the line of vehicles,” Cherry Health CEO Tasha Blackmon said in the written response.

Cherry Health has been in Grand Rapids for 30 years. The organization has been hit hard financially by the COVID-19 crisis that is expected to cost Cherry Health millions in lost revenue.

This is a developing story. Check back with woodtv.com for updates throughout the day.

Full statement from CBS:

“CBS News did not stage anything at the Cherry Health facility. Any suggestion to the contrary is 100% false. These allegations are deeply disturbing. We reached out to Cherry Health to address them immediately. They informed us for the first time that one of their chief officers told at least one staffer to get in the testing line along with real patients. No one from CBS News had any knowledge of this prior to tonight. They also said that their actions did not prevent any real patients from being tested. We take the accuracy of our reporting very seriously and we are removing the Cherry Health portion from the piece.”

Full statement from Cherry Health:

“Cherry Health is fortunate to be recognized nationally for our quality as we continue removing barriers to healthcare to those less fortunate.

“Cherry Health’s COVID-19 drive through testing process requires patients to be pre-screened through our hotline to determine who should receive a test. On the day of the CBS interview, 34 pre-screened individuals received tests. To date, we have completed close to 600 COVID-19 tests at our Heart of the City Health Center.

“We also shared with CBS This Morning that on the day of their interview, our supply of personal protection equipment was at a two-week supply level.

“Though the Project Veritas report claims the CBS video showing a line of cars was staged; to my knowledge CBS This Morning did not stage any part of their visit, and I did not instruct any of our staff to get in their cars as part of the line of vehicles.”

Cherry Health CEO Tasha Blackmon

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