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25% of People Believe Unproven Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19

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25% of People Believe Unproven Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19

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An online survey of about 2,500 people in England and published in May by Cambridge University Press found that while half of people didn’t engage in “conspiracy thinking” about the coronavirus, about 25 percent either showed a consistent pattern or “very high levels” of endorsing those ideas.

“Such ideas do not appear confined to the fringes,” the researchers from the University of Oxford concluded. “The conspiracy beliefs connect to other forms of mistrust and are associated with less compliance with government guidelines and greater unwillingness to take up future tests and treatment.”

But that’s bound to happen when you mix uncertainty, fear, economic despair, a contentious presidential race, social media trolls, including misinformation campaigns from foreign governments like Russia who seek to sow confusion.

The bad information even comes from top officials like President Trump, who wondered aloud during a coronavirus briefing in April about the potential of using light and disinfectant inside the body to kill the virus. That prompted companies like Clorox and Lysol to remind people not to ingest their products.

President Trump also instructed people to take hydroxychloroquine because, “What do you have to lose?” But soon medical journals like The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine retracted studies on the drug because it relied on faulty data.

Those are just a handful of some of the most common myths surrounding COVID-19 that play out from the White House. Social media and the doctor’s office are different areas altogether.

Dr. Mike Sevilla, a practicing family physician in Salem, Ohio, says he fields a lot of questions from his patients — namely those who watch the news every day — and reminds them that, yes, the virus is real, but, no, there still is no vaccine available.

One major myth he deals with is that COVID-19 is just another flu.

“As the pandemic was starting around the world, I had a lot of patients say that COVID-19 should be nothing to worry about because it is just another flu. It is true that the symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza can be similar, with fever, cough, and shortness of breath,” Sevilla said. “But COVID-19 is definitely not just another flu.”

Dr. Moshe Lewis, who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation in the San Francisco Bay Area, says he’s been asked about several conspiracy theories, including its connections to 5G broadband and billionaire Bill Gates.

“Science is complex, and when the public sees it unfold on a grand scale in front of their eyes, confusion ensues,” he said. “Various recommendations were put forth and then retracted, leading to mixed messaging. From these embers, fear, facts, and fiction get spliced into controversy.”

Lewis says as 5G towers went up and COVID-19 hit the United States, many confused correlation and causation, creating a “fertile ground to sow more seeds of concern.”

“The challenge with this approach is that some people have taken this so seriously as to go and burn down cellphone towers without clear and convincing evidence,” he said. “These types of actions can cause a greater danger than the unsubstantiated threat.”

Another area of controversy in the pandemic is the use of masks. First, health officials said there was no need for healthy people to wear them. Then Fauci recommended them, and many cities and counties now have orders that anyone — regardless of symptoms — wear them when out in public. This, too, remains a focus of conspiracists.

One large source of information was the 26-minute video “Plandemic.” It was first posted to social media on May 4, 2020, and — much like COVID-19 — went viral. It featured virologist Judy Mikovits, who has repeatedly been accused of being an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist.

The video has been pulled off most major social media platforms due to its inaccuracies, but it keeps resurfacing.

Science Magazine’s editorial team fact-checked many of the claims in the video, including that the virus is “activated” by face masks and that Mikovits was jailed for her research regarding HIV. They found those to simply be untrue.

Dr. José Morey works part time on the front lines as a radiologist in eastern Virginia and part time as a technology consultant for NASA, MIT, and other places. He says many of the claims in “Plandemic” are simply untrue.

“Judy Mikovits claims Bill Gates has killed millions with his global vaccination program. There is no evidence of this. This is just nonsense,” he said.

Morey has written about more advanced vaccines for Forbes, and counters Mikovits’ claims that there are no vaccines against ribonucleic acid (RNA) viruses — like the coronavirus — by saying there are several, including rabies, measles, and polio, despite the fact they mutate rapidly, making vaccines to combat them tougher to make.

As to Mikovits’ assertions that COVID-19 deaths are “extremely exaggerated,” Morey says the death toll from COVID-19 is “largely being underestimated, as many countries do not have the capability to perform such wide-scale testing.”

“Even here in the United States, testing has been poor,” he said.

As to the theory that the coronavirus was created in a Chinese laboratory, Morey says studies from many nations all point to a natural source at this time.

“The virus is odd,” he said, “but just because something is peculiar, it doesn’t mean that it is fabricated.”

Morey says part of the problem is the White House has a continuing “disdain for science and the scientific method,” including “a systemic assault on science and facts.”

“This is endemic and we are seeing the ramifications of this underlying pathology. We will ultimately find treatments and interventions for COVID-19, of this I have no doubt,” he said. “However, the disease that ails the White House is deep seated and rooted in ignorance. For this, there is only one cure: vote.”

But until November, others recommend being selective of where people get their information, from social media to popular podcasts.

Gail Trauco, RN, an oncology nurse for 42 years turned patient advocate and founder of Medical Bill 911, describes herself as someone with liberal opinions who loves the comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan, who sometimes dabbles in unproven conspiracy theories.

Still, she says, his fans need to “be real” when listening to any kind of medical advice coming from him or others like him.

“Joe Rogan will not be paying any person’s medical bills or funeral expenses related to coronavirus, with the exception of his own family,” she said. “Joe Rogan will not provide testing to any individual, nor the information on how to obtain medical care.”

That means the responsibility of staying safe lands on the individual person.

“Listen to medically credible individuals who speak from knowledge and experience,” she said.

Instead of following ideas and untested therapies from social media and even the White House, Trauco and other knowledgeable professionals suggest simple interventions to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Seek medical care if you feel ill, and follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Be ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ of your own health,” Trauco said. “The ‘bounty’ is your heartbeat.”

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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