While navigating through these times of uncertainty it's vital to stay informed and receive accurate information.
For that reason, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a page to help the public distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Distorted information can easily circulate within communities during a time of crisis.
DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Michael Posey said they have been focusing on issues locally regarding the information provided by unofficial sources while FEMA focuses on addressing information issues on a national level.
“We are trying to educate and provide as much accurate information as possible from valid sources such as the Alabama Department of Public Health,” Posey said.
He said every state is dealing with the COVID-19 differently; however, it is essential to have accurate information and to take steps to limit exposure and spread.
FEMA officials ask that you do your part to stop the spread of disinformation by following three simple rules: don't believe the rumors, don’t pass them along and go to trusted sources of information to get the facts about the federal (COVID-19) response.
“Always go to trusted sources of information like coronavirus.gov or your state and local government’s official websites or social media accounts for instructions and information specific to your community.
Posey said they have been monitoring social media for inaccurate and unverifiable content by verifying all information received through the proper channels and sources for validation.
“It’s important for everyone to understand they are part of the solution by limiting exposure and spread,” he said.
He said, like many businesses and agencies, their agency has also taken steps towards social distancing by limiting the number of people in-house.
He said although there is talk of a lockdown, that is currently not the case. Some places are still operating; however, they have taken the necessary precautions to limit exposure.
Regarding the stockpiling of groceries and supplies, he said it's important to share and be responsible individuals and not go to the stores every day to risk exposure and to allow retailers time to restock.
He advises taking safety steps when going to get supplies and food, such as wearing gloves or a mask if you have them and not going out socializing.
The following are a few of the “myths” addressed by FEMA on their Coronavirus Rumor Control page:
• A recent death reported in China was due to a new Hantavirus that can spread from person to person like COVID-19.
Hantavirus is not new, according to the CDC, it was first observed in the 1950s in Asia during the Korean War and in this country in 1993 in the Four Corners area. It is spread primarily to humans through contact with the waste products of infected rodents. Transmission from one human to another may occur but is extremely rare. Visit https://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus for more information.
• There is a national lockdown and the entire country will be quarantined for two weeks.
According to FEMA, there is no national lockdown. You can find the latest information as well as links to additional resources at www.coronavirus.gov.
• FEMA has deployed military assets.
FEMA does not have military assets. Like all emergencies, a response is most successful when it is locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.
“Each state’s governor is responsible for response activities in their state, to include establishing curfews, deploying the National Guard if needed and any other restrictions or safety measure they deem necessary for the health and welfare of their citizens,” said FEMA officials.
• We need to stockpile as many groceries and supplies as needed.
The public is advised to buy what your family needs for a week.
“Consumer demand has recently been exceptionally high, especially for grocery, household cleaning and some healthcare products. Freight flows are not disrupted, but stores need time to restock,” officials said.
• The government is sending a $1,000 check. How do I sign up?
At this time, according to FEMA, the U.S. Government is not mailing checks in response to COVID-19. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer. The Federal Trade Commission recently provided more information about this scam and other common COVID-19 related scams on their website.
• Only those over 60 years of age, and those with existing health problems are at risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, those at higher risk include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions. However, symptoms can range from mild to severe and may have different complications for each individual.
For more information on the coronavirus, visit coronavirus.gov. For information and links provided by FEMA, visit fema.gov, and for local updates by DeKalb County EMA follow them on all social media platforms.