A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

A Guide to Our Coronavirus Coverage

In our work fact-checking political claims and debunking viral deceptions, we have found a tremendous amount of misinformation on the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a guide to our coverage of the facts. Click on the headlines for the full stories.

Our Latest Stories

These are stories published in the last seven days, as of May 22:

Facebook Posts Distort Facts on Trump Actions
Facebook posts credit President Donald Trump with accomplishing a list of things that haven’t happened — claiming, for example, that he “cancelled” a proposed House bill on contact tracing and “expelled” the World Health Organization.

Trump Misleads on Hydroxychloroquine, Again
In announcing that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19, President Donald Trump made a series of inaccurate, unsubstantiated or misleading statements related to the drug, which remains an unproven treatment against the coronavirus.

Fauci Didn’t Invent, Won’t Profit from Remdesivir
A viral social media post falsely claims Dr. Anthony Fauci is “pushing” remdesivir as a potential COVID-19 treatment drug, because he “invented” it with Bill Gates and they stand to profit from it. Remdesivir was invented by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, which receives any profit from sales of the drug as a treatment for COVID-19.

Flu Shot Doesn’t Cause False Positive Results for COVID-19
A viral claim on Facebook erroneously tells users that “you will test positive” for COVID-19 if “you’ve gotten flu shots during the past ten years.” Vaccine and disease experts told us that’s false, and the Food and Drug Administration says this hasn’t been observed in any authorized tests.

Outdated Fauci Video on Face Masks Shared Out of Context
An outdated video clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci is circulating on social media — giving the false impression he is currently advising the public not to wear face masks. Fauci, like other health officials, recommends wearing a cloth face covering when distances of at least six feet can’t be maintained.

Biden Exaggerates CDC Cuts in China
Former Vice President Joe Biden overstated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s staffing cuts in China during the Trump administration. He said the CDC reduced its staff to four, but it was actually 14.

Trump Baselessly Claims Coronavirus Will ‘Go Away’ Without Vaccine
President Trump said, without evidence, that the coronavirus “is going to go away without a vaccine.” While it’s impossible to predict the future, experts say it’s unlikely that the virus will simply go away. Our SciCheck writer explains why.

False Perception of COVID-19’s Impact on the Homeless
Viral posts suggest that COVID-19 can’t be a serious disease if it hasn’t “wiped out the homeless.” But recent reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found high rates of homeless residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2.

Trump Spreads Misleading Claim on Wuhan Lab Funding
The Wuhan Institute of Virology received $600,000 as part of a larger five-year U.S. government grant to a U.S.-based nonprofit studying emerging infectious diseases. But President Donald Trump put the figure at $7.5 million, saying he “ended it.”

 

All of our coronavirus stories can be found here. All of our coronavirus videos can be found here.

FAQ

Some of the explanatory articles that we have done:

How Many COVID-19 Tests Are ‘Needed’ to Reopen?
The Trump administration has repeatedly claimed that there are enough COVID-19 tests for states to begin reopening their economies. While that may be true for select locations, experts say more tests are needed, even if they don’t agree on a particular number.

Q&A on COVID-19 Antibody Tests
President Trump says antibody tests “will help us assess the number of cases that have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and support our efforts to get Americans back to work by showing us who might have developed the wonderful, beautiful immunity.” But so far, the tests are not widely available — and many of those that are available do not work as advertised.

Q&A on the Coronavirus Pandemic
We answer some key questions about what is known so far about the outbreak and the virus.

The Facts on Coronavirus Testing
We explain how testing works, what happened with the CDC’s coronavirus test and what’s known about how many tests are available in the U.S.

No Evidence to Back COVID-19 Ibuprofen Concerns
There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make COVID-19 cases more severe. You should consult your doctor before changing medications.

No Evidence That Flu Shot Increases Risk of COVID-19
A claim being pushed on social media and by an organization skeptical of vaccines is using a military study to falsely suggest that the flu vaccine increases someone’s risk of contracting COVID-19. The study does not say that, and the Military Health System advises people to get the flu shot.

COVID-19 Face Mask Advice, Explained
Conflicting — and shifting — guidance on whether members of the public should wear face masks to combat COVID-19 has led to confusion about whether people should cover their faces when leaving their homes. We explain the evidence.

Baseless Conspiracy Theories Claim New Coronavirus Was Bioengineered
Several online stories inaccurately claim that the new coronavirus contains HIV “insertions” and shows signs of being created in a lab. But there is no evidence that the new virus was bioengineered, and every indication it came from an animal.

Will the New Coronavirus ‘Go Away’ in April?
Trump suggested that the new coronavirus would “go away” in April, as temperatures warm. While some viruses are seasonal, it’s not yet clear if the new virus will follow the same pattern — and experts caution against banking on the weather to resolve the outbreak.

Editor’s Note: If you have a question about the coronavirus pandemic, send us an email at editor@factcheck.org and put “COVID-19” in the subject line.

Q&A on COVID-19 Antibody Tests

In this video, we answer questions about the antibody tests that President Trump says are needed to get the U.S. back to work. How accurate are COVID-19 antibody tests? What’s the status of the tests in the U.S.? Will someone be protected from being infected again if they have antibodies to the virus? How long might someone be immune to COVID-19?

Posted by FactCheck.org on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

 

Political Claims

Some of our most popular stories on claims made by politicians include:

Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force during a March 13 news conference.
Photo Credit: White House

Trump Falsely Claims He Inherited ‘Empty’ Stockpile
More than once, President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that the federal stockpile of emergency medicine and supplies he inherited from his predecessor was an “empty shelf.”

Trump’s H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic Spin
The president made false and misleading comparisons between his response to the new coronavirus and President Barack Obama’s handling of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

The Facts on Trump’s Travel Restrictions
The president has made a number of misleading statements about his decision on Jan. 31 to impose travel restrictions related to the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Trump’s Statements About the Coronavirus
President Donald Trump said on March 17, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” While it’s not possible to know what Trump “felt,” there’s no doubt that Trump had minimized the threat of the new coronavirus for weeks in statement after statement.

Trump and the ‘New Hoax’
Democrats criticized Trump for using the term “hoax” in connection with the coronavirus outbreak. There’s no question that the president described the disease as the Democrats’ “new hoax” at a political rally on Feb. 28 in South Carolina. But the following day, Trump said he used the word “hoax” when referring to Democratic criticism of his administration’s response to the coronavirus, not the virus itself.

Trump’s False Claims about Pelosi and Chinatown
President Donald Trump is making false and exaggerated claims about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Feb. 24 trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The White House Spins Trump’s Disinfectant Remarks
President Donald Trump says he was being “sarcastic” when he mused about the possibility of injecting disinfectant into the body to kill COVID-19. You be the judge.

Trump’s False Coronavirus Claim About Lupus Patients
President Donald Trump once again touted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. This time, the president falsely claimed that “people with lupus” who take hydroxychloroquine “aren’t catching this horrible virus.”

False Claim About CDC’s Global Anti-Pandemic Work
Democrats have said that the Trump administration cut the CDC’s anti-pandemic work in over 40 countries to just 10. The CDC told us that’s not true.

Where the U.S. Ranks in COVID-19 Deaths Per Capita
The United States has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the world. However, President Donald Trump made the false claim that “Germany and the United States are the two best in deaths per 100,000 people.”

All of our coronavirus stories can be found here.

Videos

Some of our most popular videos, based on Facebook views:

 

Trump: Vaccine Being Developed 'Fairly Rapidly'

The president said that the U.S. is “rapidly developing a vaccine” for COVID-19 and “will essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.” That’s misleading. At best, it is a year to a year-and-a-half away.

Posted by FactCheck.org on Friday, February 28, 2020

 

Trump Hypes Potential COVID-19 Drugs

President Trump has repeatedly claimed that there is "very strong evidence" that two malaria drugs are effective in treating COVID-19. There isn't "very strong evidence." We look at the available research.

Posted by FactCheck.org on Friday, March 27, 2020

 

All of our coronavirus videos can be found here.

 

Viral Misinformation

We’ve published a significant number of articles on false and even dangerous information that has circulated on Facebook and other social media. Some of our most popular stories include:

False Claims of Nationwide Lockdown for COVID-19
The National Security Council is warning Americans of a “FAKE” rumor circulating on social media that falsely claims President Donald Trump will impose a nationwide “mandatory quarantine.” President Donald Trump 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 nanoscientist, was charged for lying about his participation in a Chinese recruitment program and his affiliation with a Chinese university. He is not accused of being a spy and has no connection to the new coronavirus.

Conspiracy Theory Misinterprets Goals of Gates Foundation
A conspiracy theory falsely claims Bill Gates is plotting to use COVID-19 testing and a future vaccine to track people with microchips. The Gates Foundation has advocated for expanded testing and has funded vaccine research, but neither of those involves implanted microchips.

The Falsehoods of the ‘Plandemic’ Video
The first installment of a documentary called “Plandemic” stormed through social media this week. But the viral video weaves a grand conspiracy theory by using a host of false and misleading claims about the novel coronavirus pandemic and its origins, vaccines, treatments for COVID-19, and more.

False Claim of Congressional Pay Raises in Stimulus Bill
Facebook posts falsely claim that House Democrats included $25 million to boost their own salaries in their proposal for the coronavirus-related stimulus package. That funding is not for legislators’ pay increases; it’s also in the bill being advanced by the Republican-controlled Senate.

False Claim That Pelosi Withheld Coronavirus Funds Over Abortion
A viral Facebook post falsely claims that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “wouldn’t release 8.5 billion for Coronavirus without abortion funding.” A House bill providing $8.3 billion in relief was already signed into law. The “abortion funding” claim is a distortion of a separate debate over a different bill.

New Coronavirus Wasn’t ‘Predicted’ In Simulation 
A conspiracy theory website distorted the facts about an emergency preparedness exercise to suggest that the “GATES FOUNDATION & OTHERS PREDICTED UP TO 65 MILLION DEATHS” from the coronavirus now spreading. The event dealt with a hypothetical scenario involving a fictional virus.

Viral Social Media Posts Offer False Coronavirus Tips
Posts are circulating false and misleading tips on social media — in some cases wrongly attributed to Stanford University — about how people can monitor and avoid the coronavirus.

April Fool’s Posts Falsely Claim Students Must Repeat the School Year
April Fool’s Day brought a spate of false posts claiming students will have to repeat the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t believe it.

Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory 
Multiple social media posts falsely claim that the deadly new coronavirus has been patented and a vaccine is already available. That’s not true; the patents the posts refer to pertain to different viruses.

Social Media Posts Make Baseless Claim on COVID-19 Death Toll
Viral posts wrongly suggest that the COVID-19 death toll is exaggerated because “the state” has instructed that “anyone who didnt die by a gun shot wound or car accident” be listed as a coronavirus victim. Experts say there is no such default classification — and that the U.S. death count is probably underestimated.

Hospital Payments and the COVID-19 Death Count
A Minnesota state senator’s recent interview on Fox News about Medicare payments for COVID-19 hospitalizations has generated a frenzy of misleading headlines on social media suggesting that hospitals may have a financial motivation when it comes to classifying cases or deaths as related to COVID-19.

Large Retail Employees Have Been Victims of COVID-19
A viral post falsely claims Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, Target and Costco — while staying open during the COVID-19 pandemic — “have not had any reported cases” of employees contracting the coronavirus.

You can find all of our coverage of viral claims on the new coronavirus, and other topics, on our Facebook Initiative page. We work with Facebook to debunk misinformation on social media. Also, see our tips on how to spot false stories.

Coronavirus Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC provides daily updates of U.S. cases in each state, as well as information on how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick. Information on COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States can be found here, and data on testing in the U.S. can be found here.

National Institutes of Health
The NIH website provides information about clinical trials underway to develop a vaccine and antiviral treatments for COVID-19.

World Health Organization 
The WHO provides international travel advice and global situation reports, and answers questions.

COVID-19 global cases, as of March 17, mapped by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine
This website includes an interactive map that tracks cases across the globe in near real time.

New York Times Coronavirus Tracking
The Times is tracking reported cases in the United States.

New England Journal of Medicine
The NEJM provides a “collection of articles and other resources on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, including clinical reports, management guidelines, and commentary.”

National Governors Association 
The NGA website provides state-level information, including timelines of actions taken in each state to date.

U.S. Department of Education 
This is a resource page for schools, teachers and other education personnel.

U.S. Department of Labor
The Labor Department provides resources to help workers and employers, including information on unemployment benefits and workplace safety.