Coronavirus Newsbites

Select Subcommittee Releases Eight Weeks Of Coronavirus Task Force Reports Kept Secret By The White House
The House Select Subcommittee on Coronavirus published eight weeks' worth of state reports compiled by the White House Coronavirus Task Force yesterday. It makes for grim reading.

The data shows clearly that while the White House was assuring Americans that cases were on the decrease, the task force was issuing warning after warning about the rapid spread of the virus across the country. One June report showed that 10 states were in the “red zone,” with rising numbers of cases. Just three days earlier, Vice President Mike Pence had said that “all 50 states are opening up safely and responsibly.”

The more granular data in the report show how President Donald Trump has sought to spin good news and cherry-pick positive data.

A herd immunity strategy to fight the pandemic can be 'dangerous,' experts say. Here's why
After months of effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the US, herd immunity has once again emerged as a controversial topic. White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Scott Atlas responded to a report yesterday that claimed he is a proponent of the idea. "I've never advocated that strategy," Atlas said at a news conference in Florida. While Atlas explicitly denied that he is pushing a herd immunity strategy, an administration official told CNN all of the policies Atlas has pushed for are in the vein of a herd immunity strategy.

Such an approach would mean that many people nationwide would have to get sick with the coronavirus in order to build up a natural immunity across communities. As the virus spreads and sickens people, many could die in the process.

US government offers $250 million for a PR company to "defeat despair" during the pandemic
The US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) wants to win the hearts and minds of Americans in the fight against coronavirus. Politico reported yesterday that HHS was planning to offer a $250 million contract to a communications firm to help it “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the pandemic.

Three in Four Adults Globally Say They’d Get a Vaccine for COVID-19 – But Is This Enough?
A survey of nearly 20,000 people across 27 countries found that 74% of people said they are willing to get a coronavirus vaccine. China had the highest support for vaccination: 97% of those surveyed saying they would get immunized. Russians showed the least interest, with just 54% saying they would. In the US, 67% of people said they’d get the jab.

Outdated guidance on masks circulates on Facebook in Manitoba
Facebook posts shared hundreds of times in Manitoba claim that the official guidance from Canada’s central province on mask-wearing states it is ineffective at preventing illnesses like the novel coronavirus. The posts feature an image of a document from February 2020 and do not reflect the provincial health department's current advice on wearing masks to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

CDC Did Not ‘Admit Only 6%’ of Recorded Deaths from COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t drastically reduced the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19, but posts making that bogus claim have been circulating widely — with the help of President Donald Trump, who retweeted one such claim on Aug. 30.

Twitter has since removed the original tweet, which came from an account dedicated to the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. But the claim is still readily available on all the major social media platforms. In fact, the same QAnon account that posted the now-deleted tweet includes a screenshot version featuring the president’s retweet.

The post Trump highlighted said: “This week the CDC quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6% of all the 153,504 deaths recorded actually died from Covid. That’s 9,210 deaths. The other 94% had 2 to 3 other serious illnesses and the overwhelming majority were of very advanced age.”

But that’s not what the CDC information says.

This photo shows a 1997 music festival in Berlin
A photo has been shared hundreds of times in multiple posts on Facebook which claim it shows millions of people at a Berlin rally against coronavirus restrictions in late August 2020. The claim is false; the image shows a music festival in Berlin in 1997; thousands of people, not millions, protested against Covid-19 restrictions in Berlin on August 29, 2020.

Video of Indian health minister slapping non-mask wearers? It's a Pakistani TV programme
A video of a man slapping people who are not wearing face masks has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter and Weibo alongside claims that it shows the Indian health minister taking action during the Covid-19 pandemic. The claim is false; the footage has been taken from a Pakistani TV programme.