All 50 states have now been saddled with rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, and some health experts are blaming misinformation from social media sites as a reason for the spike in case numbers.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking about the misinformation and its effects on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign in USA Today, remarked, “We probably would still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that’s being spread now.”
“When we talk to people who believe some of these myths about the COVID-19 vaccine about COVID itself and ask them where to get that information, many of them point to their social media platforms,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on Fox News Sunday.
With the majority of new cases and hospitalizations coming from those who are unvaccinated, health officials are growing increasingly concerned with the trendlines.
New infections are rising in all 50 states, and as of July 17, the rate of likely COVID hospitalizations had risen 24.1% week over week, and patients with COVID who were in intensive-care units had increased by 25.7%.
Numbers from the New York Times’ interactive COVID-19 data web page show a nearly 200% change in case numbers over the past 14 days with a chart that appears to show a fourth wave of COVID-19 in the making. Not only are these five states considered hotspots, but the other 45 with rising COVID cases have also been impacted by the delta variant that’s more infectious than any other known strain.
President Joe Biden has turned his attention to Facebook in recent days. But on July 19, he clarified his earlier comments, construed by Axios as Biden saying that Facebook is “killing people,” which led a spokesperson for the platform to respond, “We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts” and claiming, “More than 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet.”
“It was pointed out that on Facebook, of all the misinformation, 60% of the misinformation came from 12 individuals,” Biden said. “Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people who are out there giving misinformation … [are] killing people.”
He added, “My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation. There’s outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant.”
Yet some public officials have been downplaying the rising case numbers and otherwise pushing back against concerns in recent days. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) remarked, “It’s a seasonal virus and this is the seasonal pattern it follows in the Sun Belt states,” according to the Hill.
And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), an outspoken critic of pandemic-fighting policies, was barred from posting on Twitter for 12 hours following a July 19 tweet in which she claimed that COVID-19 was “not dangerous for non-obese people and those under 65.” Though the platform issued the ban and added a note to the tweet labeling it “misleading,” the tweet remained on her account as of July 20.