Officials calling on public to put a stop to COVID-19 rumors

Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 6:07 PM CDT
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The magnitude of misinformation online when it comes to the coronavirus has officials asking people to do their part

I spend as much time combating rumors as I do try to do my job and get the real story out there, said Mike Crecelius, emergency management director for Fremont County, Iowa, noting the amount of harm caused misinformation online is staggering.

“It scares people,” said Crecelius. “Go to the grocery store and see the empty shelves. People telling stories like this panic the population.”

He points to an email that’s been circulating that falsely states that the Army National Guard is going to be involved in a national lockdown -- this is not true.

“You know closing down state borders or things like that that we’ve heard just really don’t have any basis in reality,” said Maj. Scott Ingalsbe, Nebraska National Gaurd.

He said if they do get involved you will hear about it officially.

“When the National Guard does activate members to assist, it’s never done secretly,” Maj. Ingalsbe. “It’s about as publically announced as any military operation can be because we’re coming to the aid of our neighbors.”

When asked where people should be getting the information right now, Crecelius was clear: “Verifiable news agencies, verifiable news agencies.” Crecelius also recommended turning to government websites, noting if you’re not sure about something -- do not share it.

“They just go out they pick something up from someone else and they immediately -- without researching it -- post it,” said Crecelius. “And then someone else picks it and it becomes a three-headed monster.”

To be clear the Nebraska National Guard has not to be asked to assist in efforts to combat the Coronavirus outbreak at this time.

In states where the National Guard has been called upon members are doing work such as delivering food and supplies as well as assisting health care providers. On Tuesday, the Iowa National Guard helped deliver medical personal protective equipment to distribution sites in a number of counties.

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