Covid-19 spread from China, but much of the “infodemic” is coming from the White House.
According to a new study from Cornell University, President Donald Trump is the world’s biggest spreader of coronavirus misinformation.
Nearly 38 percent of the “misinformation conversation” began with Trump doing things such as promoting unproven “miracle cures” for Covid-19 or claiming with zero evidence that the pandemic was a “Democratic Party hoax” aimed at derailing his presidency, the researchers from the Cornell Alliance for Science found.
Talk like that is dangerous, alliance Director Sarah Evanega said.
“We were interested in exploring this issue because the World Health Organization has identified Covid misinformation, which it dubbed an ‘infodemic,’ as a serious concern in fighting the pandemic,” she said. “If people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated claims about the disease, they may be less likely to observe official guidance and thus risk spreading the disease.”
In other coronavirus developments:
Cruise ships will be barred from sailing in U.S. waters for at least another month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Nearly 3,700 confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 on cruise ships in the United States have been reported to the CDC since March 1 and at least 41 people died, the agency said.
Around 837,000 people filed for first-time jobless benefits last week as the pandemic-battered U.S. economy continued to struggle. The unemployment rate was 4.8 percent when Trump took office in January 2017. It’s 8.4 percent now.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced he would not extend his mask-wearing mandate even though his state has the fourth highest rate of new infections in the country with 17.8 percent, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center. “We should not use the heavy hand of government more than it is justified,” Reeves said.
Hospitals in the parts of Wisconsin where the number of coronavirus cases have recently spiked are running out of beds for patients. In Green Bay, where Trump on Saturday is supposed to hold a campaign rally, Bellin Hospital was reportedly already at 94 percent capacity. Wisconsin right now is the state with the third highest rate of new infections with 21.14 percent, according to Johns Hopkins.
The Cornell study, released Thursday, appears to be the first comprehensive look at pandemic misinformation in the media, and the researchers reached their conclusions after using a content aggregator to analyze 38 million Covid-19 articles from English-language news outlets around the world.
They found that Trump drove major misinformation ”spikes” when he talked about using bleach to cure Covid-19 or when he advocated unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine.
Trump’s false claim about the pandemic being created by the “deep state” to install a “new world order” was also a big driver of misinformation. So was the president’s promotion of conspiracy theories that Covid-19 was a bio-weapon that was “intentionally or accidentally released by a laboratory in Wuhan, China.”
Much of Trump’s false Covid-19 information was dispensed at his coronavirus press briefings, which he