CLAIM: Photo shows Los Angeles County health director looking unwell.
THE FACTS: The photo was manipulated to make the health director appear sickly, her face pale and her eyes ringed by dark circles.
The altered photo showing Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, circulated widely on social media with comments that suggested she was in poor health. “The health director of Los Angeles is the most unhealthy looking person I have ever seen,” a Twitter user posted on May 15. The post had over 23,000 retweets. A screenshot of the tweet also circulated on Facebook. Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative commentator, tweeted the altered photo on May 16, saying, “This is the health director of Los Angeles. Any questions?” The post had over 14,000 retweets. He later replied to a Twitter user who pointed out that the photo was false, “Okay, I got carried away with this one. Thanks for calling me on it.”
The image was taken from a press briefing Ferrer gave on May 13. In footage from the event, Ferrer appears to be in good health as she delivers COVID-19 updates. In the manipulated image, her eyes were darkened to make it appear she had dark circles and her face was made pale. Ferrer came under fire earlier this month after saying some form of stay-at-home restrictions would likely remain “for the next three months.” She later apologized for inadvertently creating confusion around the issue.