July 23, 2020

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My little brother is a filmmaker in Los Angeles. As a husband and father of two in a precarious industry, he texts me with COVID-19 questions all the time: Do you think LA will close up again? What’s going to happen to the economy when unemployment checks run out?

Recently he asked something along the lines of: How much did the LA demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd contribute to the region’s now surging COVID-19 infections?

The spike in cases pushed Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday to warn the city “is on the brink” of issuing a new stay-at-home order.

The question about a link between the protests and increased infections gained renewed significance for some last week as Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered sweeping closures of non-essential businesses statewide and prohibited most schools from reopening their campuses at the start of the fall semester.

Reacting to Newsom’s mandates, conservative groups and a prominent GOP state lawmaker suggested the crowds at the demonstrations are to blame for the surge in Los Angeles and across the state — and not the churches, restaurants, salons and other businesses that were forced to shutter.

The claims by the conservative groups are far from scientific and go against the general findings of a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, which has yet to be peer reviewed but found protests did not lead to a jump in cases in most large cities across the United States, though it did not evaluate Los Angeles.

To learn more about how LA’s protests might have contributed, PolitiFact spoke with infectious disease experts and reviewed public briefings by LA County officials.

Garcetti and Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer have both acknowledged a link between the events.

Still, health experts said, figuring out just how deep that connection goes is no simple matter.

Click here to read more.

Trump claims U.S. has “one of the lowest mortality rates in the world” from COVID-19. That’s wrong

The United States doesn’t have one of the world’s lowest mortality rates from the coronavirus. No fewer than 15 advanced, industrialized nations currently have a lower mortality rate, as do a host of other countries, including Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Russia, Turkey, Argentina, and India. Read the fact-check»

Misreported test data in Orlando does not explain Florida’s COVID-19 outbreak

A state website showed that one of Orlando Health’s 13 testing sites reported a 98% positive rate on 522 tests for COVID-19, but the network said its actual positive rate was about 10%. An Internet prankster seized on the opportunity and said it explained the “outbreak” in Florida. But, the rate of positive tests alone is not reflective of the size of the surge in the state, which had 301,810 total cases and on July 12 set a national record for cases in one day. Get the facts»

Facebook post claiming to show Obama at Wuhan lab is miscaptioned

“Dr. Fauci, Melinda Gates and Barack Obama at the Wuhan Lab in 2015…!!!!” reads the circled text atop the image in a well-shared Facebook post. Don’t buy it. The photo actually shows Obama and Fauci at the National Institutes of Health in 2014. Read the fact-check»

Does this viral image show a school throwing out hundreds of books contaminated by COVID-19?

No. The books shown in a Facebook post with the caption, “All the books have been removed from the classrooms. They claim that the books cannot be cleaned.” In reality, they were weeded from the school library’s collection because they were outdated. Check your facts»

Facebook post falsely claims you can apply for a second coronavirus stimulus check

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is not giving essential workers $1,000 and, sorry, you can’t sign up to cash in on $2,000 from the federal government every month. The “sign-up” link in a Facebook post saying otherwise leads to an image of a gorilla making an obscene gesture. Read the fact-check»

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

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