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Determining COVID-19 Fact from Fiction

March 23, 2020
By Joseph Schany , Emmetsburg News

I am not a hypochondriac. In fact, on most days I try not to think about my health, historically to my own detriment. Unfortunately, 20 years as a type 1 diabetic and many of those years spent with poor blood sugar management has caused numerous problems including a compromised immune system that has left me vulnerable to any and all illnesses that cross my path.

This time of year I am typically fending off a common cold or influenza and trying my best to dodge and weave the viral infections. Educating myself on the illness and understanding the preventative measures has gone a long way in the fight against sickness. After all, forewarned is forearmed.

Lately I've been paying extra close attention to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in an effort to, again, arm myself with knowledge in order to combat whatever may come my way. However, in my quest for information, I am finding that misinformation and downright false claims continue to circulate online and through social media, making it difficult to identify fact from fiction.

In a report titled "Spotting False News in a Rapidly Evolving Online Environment," Peggy Rupprecht, Ph.D., assistant professor in Creighton University's Department of Computer Science, Design and Journalism, says there are methods to verify and check the authenticity of information:

Source the information. Use search engines to determine if the information is coming from additional, reputable news organizations. Be mindful of websites masquerading as credentialed news organizations.

Check the facts. is a website that verifies statements from political candidates and office-holders.

Debunk rumors. aggregates false stories circulating online.

See something, say something. Report misinformation on social media to the platform. Most social media platforms offer a drop-down menu option to report posts that spread misinformation.

For trusted COVID-19 reports, we are lucky to have Palo Alto County Health Systems (PACHS) in our backyard working to keep the public informed of any pertinent updates, as well as organizations like Palo Alto Public Health and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Broadening consumption across a variety of credible and legitimate resources provides a safeguard against false information and will help all of us remain healthy and informed.



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