Why Florida Doctors Are Protesting This McDonald's Location

A group of doctors is protesting an on-site McDonald's restaurant at Tampa General Hospital, local news station WFLA reports. But instead of removing their gloves to picket outside of the eatery, they put up a billboard in the area that reads, "I'm Not Lovin' the Ventilator," a clear nod to the McDonald's tagline, "I'm lovin' it." The billboard, put up by the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and remaining through mid-February, depicts a hospital patient hooked up to a ventilator, warning that "high-fat fast food can contribute to obesity, putting COVID patients at risk for intubation." It asks the hospital to go "#FastFoodFree."

Before putting up the billboard, the physicians' group, which boasts 17,000 members around the country, tried other methods to urge Tampa General Hospital to replace the McDonald's location with a plant-based eatery. The committee also wrote a letter to hospital leadership and a complaint to the Florida Department of Health, arguing that instead of allowing fast food restaurants on premises, hospitals should "provide plant-based meals that can help people prevent and even reverse obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other diet-related diseases that can put COVID-19 patients at risk for severe illness."

Reactions on both sides to the anti-McDonald's billboard

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine billboard immediately made headlines in Tampa and surrounding areas. WFLA posted a picture of it to Twitter, where it generated some strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Twitter user Sunny Slope was surprised to learn that a fast food joint is located inside a place of healing. "I think all fast food restaurants are criminal, except maybe 'Salad To Go," they said. User Nicki hailed the billboard as "nice," saying, "Let's address the real issues!"

Twitter user @mikelor23896140, on the other hand, found the billboard unnecessary, saying, "most normal people knew that already," about the link between obesity and health risks associated with COVID-19. Commenter @KirseyBelle was shocked that the group "wasted" their money on the billboard, noting, "There's so much crap at the hospital cafeteria. And they are focused on this??!!!" A response by @Beachbums was equally unimpressed: "If you don't want to eat at McDonald's, go to the cafeteria and get a salad. Next issue." McDonald's and the Tampa General Hospital seem to agree with these users, as both released statements to WFLA stressing that people dining at the hospital can make their own choices about what they want to eat.