Hospital News

Local health, school, state officials warn of rumors and scams surrounding coronavirus

This story appeared in the Cumberland Times News on Saturday, March 14. The author is Teresa McMinn.

CUMBERLAND — In addition to what can seem like an unlimited stream of reputable resources related to coronavirus news, plenty of bad, and sometimes downright wrong, information is circulating regarding the disease.

The Federal Trade Commission on Friday reported that scammers “are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus, including through the sale of counterfeit products and the solicitation of money and personal information.”

Maryland’s Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh cautioned state residents to be vigilant and to donate wisely.

“During uncertain times, con artists prey on your generosity and create scams, frauds or deceptive acts to line their own pockets,” Wobensmith said in a press release. “Be sure you know who you are giving to, and remember it is always best to give directly to well-established, reputable charitable organizations.”

In addition to scams, some folks are using social media to spread rumors and misinformation pertaining to coronavirus.

Allegany County Public Schools issued a statement that asks folks to beware of “mixed messages” on social media.

“Official ACPS communications are the only authoritative source of information regarding ACPS operations,” the statement read.

“Please refrain from spreading false information about COVID-19,” the Allegany County Health Department stated. “Look to reliable sources such as the Allegany County Health Department, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Governor’s Office.”

UPMC Western Maryland also issued a statement.

“As coronavirus continues to gain media attention, social media hoaxes and disreputable news outlets are taking advantage of the situation to spread rumors and spam. To date, there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in the communities UPMC serves. If there is ever a local case, official confirmation will come from the Centers for Disease Control, the state Department of Health or local health departments.”