JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax is pressing Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry for answers about an interaction he had with one of our reporters on social media.
Curry aimed criticisms at Action News Jax’s Ben Becker after Becker asked Curry to cite his source when it comes to local COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Sunday night, Curry sent out four tweets referring to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville.
In one, he said “any local or national media headline leading people to believe that masses are getting sick and hospitalized from COVID in Jacksonville is not true and is irresponsible reporting”
The mayor mentioned it Monday during his Zoom briefing.
“In last weeks there have been reporting about increase in cases and capacity without full context,” Curry said.
That reporting was not by Action News Jax.
Becker followed up the mayor’s tweet on Sunday by asking “Hello Mayor, What specific reporting are you referring to and can you please provide the daily hospitalization numbers you are referencing for the past two weeks. Thank you.”
The mayor retweeted a comment from a supporter aimed at Becker that said in part ”how bout do your job and investigate like a real journalist ... how about go to the hospitals and ask them directly”
The mayor followed up his retweet about Becker by tweeting, “not a serious person so he won’t and likely can’t answer your question.”
On Monday, the mayor finally revealed there are currently 14 people in ICU units in Duval County
Becker did try to verify that number with various local hospitals, including Mayo Clinic, Baptist Health, UF Health, Memorial and St. Vincent’s. However they either didn’t get back to him or said they could not comment because of patient privacy laws.
Becker did confirm there are dozens of people in local hospitals for coronavirus, just not the ICU.
Becker asked the mayor on Monday about the Twitter exchange:
“Why did you criticize me on Twitter last night when I asked you for information related to the statement you made,” Becker asked.
Curry visibly laughed and then said, “I did not interact with you on social media personally.”
Becker asked the mayor’s office if the mayor runs his own Twitter account and was told he does.
He also asked if the mayor’s account was hacked and was told no.
Becker also asked to have a follow-up question during the briefing, but was told there were other reporters and he was taking only one more question.
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