“They should show the number of flu cases and deaths along with COVID-19 information.” “Bill Gates is giving away a fortune! All you need to do is send money back on this chain letter and you might end up with millions!” “A friend in the military tells me that the Stafford Act is going to be invoked next week.” “COVID-19 can be cured with massive doses of Vitamin-C.” “There is no virus. It’s an attempt by the deep state to impose a dictatorship.”
These are just a few of the false statements we have received in the past week on Whitley Strieber’s FaceBook Messenger client. As of today in our Insight Section, we are running PEN America’s excellent guide to what is true and false out there, and where to go to get real information.
The basics are these: Russian trolls are working overtime to destabilize our country and cause the maximum amount of damage, both economic and physical, from the virus. For example, they are promoting the idea that the response is overblown because the flu kills more people. Therefore, the thinking goes, we shouldn’t be engaging in this economically devastating quarantine. Unfortunately, some important US media outlets are now promoting this fallacy.
Why is it a fallacy? Because, unlike the flu, nobody has immunity to COVD-19 except possibly the few people who have recovered from it. With a two to four percent death rate, it is far more lethal than the flu, which has well under a one percent death rate. It is also extremely contagious.
Taken together, these factors mean that if it spreads widely–and if we go off quarantine, it is certain to do just that–we are going to end up with a catastrophe that will bring this country to its knees.
In other words, exactly what Vladimir Putin and the Russian government want.
To address each of the other claims quoted above: Bill Gates is trying his best to offer generous assistance, but it has nothing to do with thieves and their chain letters; If the government invokes the Stafford Act, it is not the end of the world, but we aren’t there yet; there is no clear evidence that anything cures COVID-19 or can stave it off except washing your hands frequently, keeping your environment clean and not touching your face except after you have washed your hands and are in a safe space; while it’s true that Hungary has just become a dictatorship due to a bill passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no evidence that most western democracies are in trouble.
Please read PEN’s guide before falling for these or any of the many scams that are proliferating out there. And DO NOT click on any links in any emails, even if they come from your friends, not before looking at the URL first and determining for certain that it is legitimate. If you are not sure, ask the friend if they actually sent you the email–not by replying to it but by sending them an email to their known address.
Click here for the PEN Guide.