Jerry Falwell Jr. was reportedly making a TikToc video with his family while almost a dozen students at Liberty University were showing symptoms of the coronavirus; one of the students tested positive on March 30, 2020.
After spring break, Falwell invited thousands of students back to the school’s Lynchburg, Virginia campus despite numerous warnings by medical experts to avoid large groups and practice social distancing.
Falwell also floated a conspiracy theory about the deadly virus on Fox News on March 13.
Dr. Thomas W. Eppes Jr., who runs Liberty’s student health service, told the New York Times that he warned Falwell: “We’ve lost the ability to corral this thing.”
However, Dr. Eppes said he did not tell Falwell to close the campus for health reasons: “I just am not going to be so presumptuous as to say, ‘This is what you should do and this is what you shouldn’t do.’”
Dr. Eppes said nearly a dozen students were sick with symptoms that resembled the coronavirus.
Falwell responded on March 29: “Liberty will be notifying the community as deemed appropriate and required by law.”
Liberty University published a press release on March 30, which accused the New York Times of ambushing the school, even though Dr. Epper agreed to an interview with the New York Times:
The New York Times ambushed Liberty University to publish a false and misleading story claiming that, “students started getting sick” after the University received students back after spring break.
The Times attributed the reporter’s conclusion about the scope of the COVID-19 symptoms being about a dozen students to a local doctor who has consulted with LU. The truth is a far different story. Both the numbers and the sequencing are wrong.
Liberty disputes the number of students with symptoms that the Times reported. Liberty is not aware of any students in its residence halls testing positive for COVID-19 or, in fact, being tested at all, much less any residence hall students having sufficient symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested.
Liberty can confirm that, following the US Surgeon General’s recommendations concerning persons who had been in the New York City metropolitan area, Liberty University asked four students who had recently been in that area and who were living in campus residence hall rooms to self-quarantine for the recommended period in single rooms at Liberty’s unoccupied housing annex.