One night this week an urgent appeal went out to a Facebook group of emergency room doctors. “If you were in charge of the Federal response to the Pandemic what would your recommendations be?” asked Dr. Kurt Kloss, a physician based in New York.
The question was hardly theoretical. “I have direct channel,” he added, “to person now in charge at White House and have been asked for recommendations.”
That person, he said, is Jared Kushner, a top adviser to President Donald Trump who has become increasingly involved in the administration’s response to the coronavirus and is also the brother-in-law of the doctor’s daughter, the model Karlie Kloss. Kloss is married to Joshua Kushner, Kushner’s brother, a venture capitalist.
“Tonight I was asked by Jared through my son-in-law for my recommendations,” Kloss wrote on Wednesday evening. “That’s when I turned to you guys my fellow BAFERDs for help.” BAFERD is an acronym for emergency room doctors, joined by a number of expletives.
Among the laundry list of suggestions Kloss listed on his personal page were ideas like nationalizing testing devices “as in wartime,” activating the Federal Emergency Management Agency, creating pop-up field hospitals and canceling mass gatherings, according to the post.
Other ideas included using emergency funding to compensate those who were quarantined, and “draconian” travel restrictions. Screenings, Kloss mused, could be done over telemedecine-based video services.
In recent days, Jared Kushner has assumed large portions of the portfolio managing the coronavirus crisis and by Kloss’ account, was highly interested in the doctors’ recommendations.
In a series of follow-up posts on Wednesday evening, Kloss posted updates to the Facebook group, which includes more than 20,000 medical professionals. “Jared is reading now,” one message said.
Kloss ended the post with the phrase “got to turn this in now,” though a series of commenters who apparently knew his connection to the Trump administration urged him to send the list of ideas to the president.
“Send it to TRUMP!!!!!!!!!!!” one commenter wrote, followed by more than a dozen exclamation points and three bicep emojis. “Done,” Kloss responded.
A person close to Kushner said he was unaware of Kloss’ activities and a White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. Messages to Kloss went unanswered.
The Spectator earlier reported news of the Facebook group.
Turning to Kloss is not entirely without merit. A graduate of the University of Miami medical school, he is an emergency medicine specialist who has practiced for more than 30 years.
But Kloss is also outside the purview of the government, where officials have struggled to get on the same page. By midday Friday, news of Kloss’ crowdsourced knowledge-gathering had hit the internet.
The exchange alarmed at least some of the doctors in the group, according to a person who viewed the discussion. The only requirement to be let into the private Facebook group was showing the administrator proof of practicing medicine; anyone part of the group could comment on or view the exchange.
One person described the group as “far from a group of experts,” but more a “collection of rando doctors on social media.”
The Facebook post was deleted from Kloss’ page later Thursday evening, after reporters inquired about the matter.