The coronavirus pandemic has unsurprisingly set the internet alight. We're inundated with coronavirus news on all mediums: day in, day out. With an overwhelming and ever-increasing amount of COVID-19 related information online, it can be difficult to sort the myths from the facts.
The spread of misinformation can lead to increased anxiety or complacency. In the midst of a global crisis, both of these outcomes are incredibly dangerous.
The best way to stay safe from the coronavirus is to be as informed as possible. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to get your COVID-19 information from reliable sources.
How to Spot Fake News
Unfortunately, in this age of social media, fake news is rife. Fortunately, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has some handy tips on how to spot fake news.
- Consider the source. Who is the author? What are their credentials on relevant issues?
- Are there any supporting sources? Do they support the story?
- Is it a joke? Research the source to determine whether or not it might be satire.
- Ask the experts. Consult with a fact-checking website or official source like the WHO.
- Read beyond the headlines. Is it just clickbait? What’s the whole story?
- Are you biased? Are your own beliefs affecting your judgment?
- Look before you share. Limit the circulation of fake news by checking all of the above before sharing.
Government websites are a great source of COVID-19 information. As the US begins to reopen and ease lockdown restrictions, it’s important to stay on top of updated guidelines. Information about the responsibilities of individuals and employers during each specific phase of the opening can be found on the Whitehouse’s official website. This source also includes information on how states should be prepared to meet the challenges ahead.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating the federal government’s response to natural and manmade disasters. Here you can find the truth about coronavirus rumors and myths as FEMA aims to help the public distinguish between fact and fiction.
Coronavirus.gov has the latest official information from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. It also has answers to the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19, with regards to symptoms and testing, the way the virus spreads, travel, keeping the home safe, financial help for workers and families, and parents and children.
Other Official Websites
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a globally-trusted source of COVID-19 information. The WHO regularly holds live press conferences with the most up-to-date information and news. Advice, mythbusters, and information about research and development can also be found on their website.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a wealth of reliable coronavirus information. This source offers information on how to protect yourself at home and when going out as well as health considerations and tools for communities to plan and respond to COVID-19. It also provides a self symptom checker and up-to-date recommendations.
The CDC recently updated its advice to say that all US citizens should wear a face mask or covering in public places where social distancing is not possible. This will help to reduce community-based transmission and slow down the overall spread of the virus.
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There’s not a news outlet in the world that hasn’t covered the coronavirus in one way or another. However, some news organizations have had considerably better coverage than others.
Gizmodo, Live Science, NewScientist, Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic, New York Times, STAT News, and the Associated Press have regularly proved themselves to be reliable and up-to-date sources of COVID-19 information.
One of the easiest ways to keep with the ever-changing coronavirus statistics is with the online interactive dashboard that was created by researchers from Johns Hopkins University for Systems Science and Engineering at the beginning of the pandemic.
The tracker shows information about each country’s overall cases, deaths, and people said to have recovered. It is updated in real-time using official data from the CDC and WHO, among others.
CNN is one of many news organizations to use this data to regularly update its live coverage and interactive infographics related to each state (see above image for example).
Similarly, a state-level tracker has recently been created by a team of researchers, journalists, and coders. This volunteer-led COVID Tracking Project collects data on COVID-19 testing, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from all 50 states.
No, surely not? Social media is a hotspot for inaccurate memes and fake news! That is true, however, when you know where to look, social media can be a great source of COVID-19 information.
It’s not uncommon for news to break on Twitter first, before reaching official news organizations. With that in mind, Fortune put together a Twitter list of trusted public health officials, epidemiologists, virus experts, family doctors, and others.