COVID-19 Misinformation Just As Dangerous

The COVID Conspiracy

Ali Montee

The COVID “Conspiracy”

It has been 10 months since the 1st COVID-19 case was detected in the United States, and the pervasiveness of misinformation about the disease has spread as rampant as the virus itself.

What is scary to me is that I have noticed that some people don’t seem to know what is required in terms of social distancing or wearing masks. Adding to the fact that false information spreads so quickly, social media seems to be posing as a genuine threat toward the safety and health of citizens in many parts of the world.

Due to the uncertainty of how certain government leaders view the virus, there has been much confusion on how best to protect against it and what a person can do about it. The poor explanations of what exactly the rules are in terms of social distancing and wearing masks has caused a divide of attitude across the nation towards COVID-19.

The bottom line is that some are treating the virus much more seriously than others.

This divide in attitude has only been exacerbated by misinformation that is spread through social media. Sophomore Chase Yang has also noticed this trend saying that “[On social media] there are people who are downplaying the virus and claiming that we don’t even have to wear a mask.”

According to the Pew Research Center, a whopping 55% of people get their news predominantly from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

A study recently published by the Misinformation Review said, “People who get their news from social media are much more likely to believe falsehoods about Coronavirus.” The study added that those who do not get their news from credible sources are less likely to social distance or believe that COVID-19 is a threat at all.

It feels like we are all living in this limbo of ambiguity, where each person’s biases are dictating what they believe and what they don’t instead of following what medical doctors and science professionals are telling us.

President Donald Trump has set a terrible example for his citizens. He makes fun of people for wearing masks, and hosts large rallies where masks and social distancing are not required. A president is someone who is supposed to set an example on how to act, and Trump has only done the opposite.

“The federal government should’ve had a much better response,” said sophomore Tai Lee.

Social media users only add fuel to this misinformation fire when they don’t practice what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends. Encouraging people to wear masks and social distance through social media is incredibly important, however when the same people who post this do not actually follow what they tell their fanbase to do, it leads to more confusion being spread about the virus.

“It is extremely selfish of influencers to be partying with large groups of people without social distancing when they have a young audience who look for them for advice,” sophomore Kaya Lu said.

This attitude towards the virus that many celebrities and our own president follow stems from the fact that these people have access to urgent, quick and quality care. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all Americans.

There is a lot of misinformation and bad examples being spread in terms of COVID-19 and what to do about it. As a teenager, the mortality rate for the virus may be fairly low, but that does not mean that it should not be taken seriously.

There will be a time when things will return to normal, but for now, it is important to follow CDC guidelines, so “normal life” can return sooner than later.