As 2020 draws to an end, we present the 10 most popular stories on our website this year. Seven of the 10 were about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19.
Here is our list, in order:
Hospital Payments and the COVID-19 Death Count
In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, Congress agreed to pay an additional 20% on top of traditional Medicare rates for COVID-19 patients during the public health emergency, and reimburse hospitals for treating uninsured patients with the disease (at that enhanced Medicare rate). The act further created a $100 billion fund that is being used to financially assist hospitals — a “portion” of which will be “used to reimburse healthcare providers, at Medicare rates, for COVID-related treatment of the uninsured,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
But there’s no evidence that COVID-19 deaths have been inflated by hospitals for profit — as some, including President Donald Trump, have suggested.
Biden’s False Claim on Trump’s Response to Coronavirus
Former Vice President Joe Biden was wrong when he said that the Trump administration made “no effort” to get U.S. medical experts into China as the novel coronavirus epidemic spread there early this year.
False Claims of Nationwide Lockdown for COVID-19
In March, the National Security Council warned Americans of a “FAKE” rumor circulating on social media that falsely claims Trump will impose a nationwide “mandatory quarantine.” In a March 16 press briefing, the president said his administration “may look at certain areas,” but it is not considering anything that would affect the whole country “at this time.”
No Link Between Harvard Scientist Charles Lieber and Coronavirus
Charles Lieber, a prominent Harvard scientist, was charged on Jan. 28 for lying about his participation in a Chinese recruitment program and his affiliation with a Chinese university. But Lieber, a nanoscientist, has no connection to the novel coronavirus — contrary to social media claims.
The Facts on Trump’s Travel Restrictions
Trump made a number of misleading statements about his decision on Jan. 31 to impose restrictions on some travelers to the United States if they had traveled to China within the previous two weeks. Trump, for example, falsely referred to the travel restrictions as a “travel ban.” There wasn’t an outright ban, as there are exceptions, including for Americans and their family members.
Sanders Didn’t Call for 52% Tax on $29,000 Incomes
A viral post claims, falsely, that Sen. Bernie Sanders at a recent debate called for a tax rate of 52% on incomes of $29,000 or more to pay for his Medicare for All plan. He didn’t. That figure was floated as a potential marginal tax rate for income above $10 million.
Trump’s H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic Spin
In tweets and other appearances, Trump has repeatedly compared his response to the new coronavirus with President Barack Obama’s handling of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. But Trump’s information is frequently incorrect or misleading — and the two viruses are very different.
FactChecking the State of the Union
The president’s address included false and misleading claims on jobs, wages, energy, immigration and more.
False Claim About CDC’s Global Anti-Pandemic Work
As the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus has spread around the world, a number of politicians, news organizations and public figures have made the false claim that the Trump administration cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s anti-pandemic work in over 40 countries to just 10. The claim appears to have been based solely on outdated news reports from early 2018 that said the CDC was preparing to dramatically reduce its work helping to prevent infectious-disease epidemics. Those hypothetical cuts were avoided, however, because Congress later provided more funding for the CDC’s global health programs, the CDC told us in a statement.
Trump Has Condemned White Supremacists
Trump drew criticism for his condemnation of “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” after a rally organized by a white nationalist in Charlottesville in 2017, and for saying there were “very fine people on both sides.” But Biden went too far when he wrongly claimed Trump has “yet once to condemn white supremacy, the neo-Nazis.”
Thanks for reading FactCheck.org. Have a safe and healthy new year.
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