Use common sense to stop the spread of rumors – and COVID-19

Washington County residents can no longer take comfort in believing we had avoided contact with COVID-19. We know now there is a case in Marietta. We also know that patient did exactly what she was supposed to do, and that she and her husband are now being monitored in quarantine at home.

But for many of us, that news might have triggered a new level of anxiety. Certainly our social media feeds are brimming with posts designed to heighten our panic, as it is — even if those creating the posts had to resort to a little falsification, exaggeration and drama to ensure they were shared.

Please, folks, stay calm and use a little common sense. Yes, there is a lot to absorb right now — a lot we must be doing to try to flatten the curve.

A few simple steps can prevent us from making the problem worse by spreading falsehoods.

¯ Pay attention to the source of what you are reading. Do not believe something just because it was shared by someone you know. Under our current circumstances, look for whether medical information came from public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Ohio Department of Health or West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources.

¯ Ask questions. Verify, verify, verify. Be suspicious of information from a group or news organization you’ve never heard of. Pay attention to whether something is a news item or an opinion piece. Confirm information from multiple sources. And if you see no attribution at all for the information, be very suspicious.

¯ Do not instantly share what you receive. Do not believe everything you see, and pause for a moment before deciding whether you trust a piece of information enough to pass it along. If your instincts tell you something is not right, don’t share it at all.

We are all in this together, ladies and gentlemen. Do your part by stopping not just the spread of COVID-19, but the rumors that are doing a great deal of harm, themselves.


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