June 16, 2020

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A Facebook user declared, “I’m starting a public movement called TAKE IT OFF,” in attempting a six-point takedown of facial coverings and how effective they are in fighting COVID-19.

The post features an image labeled “Face Mask Safety — Know The Facts Before You Wear One.” The image makes this six-part claim about masks:

“Decreases oxygen intake; increases toxin inhalation; shuts down immune system; increases virus risk; scientifically inaccurate; effectiveness not studied.”

“Well, that all sounds like a lot of dangerous nonsense,” Texas A&M University-Texarkana virologist Ben Neuman told PolitiFact.

As PolitiFact has reported, facial coverings are not in themselves totally effective in fighting the coronavirus and there is a need for more study. But health officials largely agree that wearing any kind of face mask, coupled with social distancing and frequent hand-washing, is more protective than going unmasked.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t recommend masks for children under age 2 or for people who are unconscious or have breathing conditions, it generally recommends wearing masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. As the CDC puts it: “Your cloth face covering may protect them. Their cloth face covering may protect you.”

Click here for a rundown on why each part of the post is wrong.

Did New York follow Trump’s CDC guidance with nursing homes and COVID-19?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration issued an advisory March 25 that stated that nursing homes “must comply with the expedited receipt of residents” coming from hospitals, regardless of whether they are infected with the new coronavirus. The CDC warned nursing homes to keep COVID-19 out of their facilities and said nursing homes can admit coronavirus patients, but only if they are able to properly care for them. Read the fact-check»

TikTok video claims Russia released lions to curb COVID-19

A video on TikTok claims Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened jail time for those who don’t quarantine and released 800 lions and tigers to patrol the streets to address the coronavirus. Some of this is true. Check it out»

Facebook post claims that N95 masks can’t stop COVID-19 particles

Don’t believe it. The size-based argument against N95 masks laid out in a Facebook post assumes mask filtering works more like water flowing through a net — particles in the water smaller than the net opening pass through, while larger items don’t. But the physics involved don’t work like that. Get the facts»

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Alex Mahadevan is a senior multimedia reporter at MediaWise. He can be reached at amahadevan@poynter.org or on Twitter at @AlexMahadevan. Follow MediaWise on TikTok.

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Alex Mahadevan is director of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute. He has taught digital media literacy to thousands of middle and high schoolers, and has…
Alex Mahadevan

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