COVID-19 has been called an “infodemic” by the chief of the World Health Organization, because of the large amount of inaccurate or misleading information being spread about the novel coronavirus. There is so much we still don’t know about this virus, causing an information void that has easily and quickly been filled with false information. As an information consumer, how do you sift through all the news that’s bombarding you to determine what’s true and what’s not?
COVID-19 has been accurately labeled many things — a pandemic, a novel virus, and highly contagious. But it’s very likely that you’ve also seen false claims that it is no more dangerous than the common flu or worse yet, that it was man-made and intentionally spread – both of which have been proven incorrect with sound science.
We want to empower you with up-to-date, reliable resources to help educate yourself, so you’re able to respond appropriately and protect your family, loved ones and our community. You can always visit the COVID-19 Response page on the Mesa County Public Health website for trusted and reliable local information related to the virus. We encourage you to dig into some of our other trusted information sources, as well, to satisfy your natural curiosity and stay up to date as new information on the virus is released and new guidance is passed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the most up-to-date information related to COVID-19 in the United States. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) serves a similar purpose for the State of Colorado. Local public health agencies across the state work closely with CDPHE to ensure our orders and actions are in alignment with the latest information released by the state. The Governor of Colorado has also been holding press conferences regularly, streamed via Facebook live and on some news outlets, making it easy to hear firsthand Colorado’s response to the disease.
Johns Hopkins University, a leader in providing COVID-19 information founded in sound science since the onset of the pandemic, maintains a Coronavirus Resource Center with excellent global and national insights. Their School of Public Health also produces the Public Health On Call podcast every weekday to “help you understand today’s COVID-19 news and what it means for tomorrow.”
How do you know if you’ve stumbled across misinformation?
When you encounter information, there are a few tell-tale signs that what you’re consuming may not be accurate. For example, most trustworthy sources have careful editors, so if you see frequent spelling errors, poor grammar, or questionable language, be suspicious. Credible outlets also use credible sources – question vague citations without further details, like “scientists believe” or “one physician reported.” Similarly, the old proverb about “if something seems too good to be true…” most likely applies when a piece of extraordinary or groundbreaking news is only being reported by one source.
Social media is a prime culprit in the spread of misinformation. Although Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube work to actively monitor their sites for false information, it still may be shared and viewed by millions of users. Before you repost something you’ve seen on social media, consider the source and dig a little further.
Many people use Snopes as their go-to fact-checking website. Locally, our own Grand Junction Daily Sentinel publishes a page on Sundays titled “Not Real News” to help combat the spread of misinformation.
Obtaining and spreading trusted, reliable information are critical to combating COVID-19. Inaccurate information is not only distracting, it is potentially dangerous. We each have a responsibility to educate ourselves and make sure that the information we choose to believe, is in fact, the truth.
Your actions protect our community’s physical and economic health. As we continue our path forward, please also remember to take the everyday precautions that help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus:
- Maintain 6 feet of social distance
- Wash hands often
- Cover nose and mouth in public
- Stay home when sick
- Get tested if symptoms appear
Thanks for doing your part to stop the spread – of COVID-19, and of misinformation.