Q: What are the risks of the newly identified coronavirus variants?
A: It’s not yet known whether mutant versions cause more severe disease, but some are likely more contagious. Scientists expect vaccines will work but are monitoring the situation.
Q: Did a recent study in Denmark show that face masks are useless for COVID-19?
A: No. The study found that face masks did not have a large protective effect for wearers — not that masks provide no protection at all or don’t offer benefits to others.
Q: Are hospitals inflating the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths so they can be paid more?
A: Recent legislation pays hospitals higher Medicare rates for COVID-19 patients and treatment, but there is no evidence of fraudulent reporting.
Q: Did President Barack Obama immediately fire all Bush-appointed ambassadors “the day he was elected office”?
A: No. As is the custom, Obama immediately replaced most — not all — of Bush’s politically appointed ambassadors. Obama did not remove any of the career appointees to ambassadorships.
Q: Do people with serious mental health disorders pose a greater risk of becoming mass shooters?
A: People with mental illnesses are somewhat more likely to be violent than those without a diagnosis. But a majority are never violent, and very little is known specifically about mass murder.