COVID-19 Resources

Rumor control and being aware of possible scams and fraud are important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has compiled a number of rumors that are circulating in these times and facts to correct them. Additionally, several government agencies and departments have put out resources to keep the public aware of possible scams and frauds related to COVID-19. To help stop the spread of rumors, try to find trusted sources, share information from trusted sources and discourage others from sharing information from unverified sources. COVID-19 related scams and frauds may also be reported to help prevent anyone from becoming a victim to predators attempting to profit from this pandemic. Below is a list of rumors FEMA has addressed and resources to report fraud and scams. Additionally, if you have any questions about rumors, you may use the email address at the bottom of this page.

Do I need to register with FEMA in order to be considered for COVID-19 help from the U.S. Small Business Administration?


No. If you represent a small business or nonprofit, for information visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 loan resources page. FEMA is not able to accept disaster assistance registrations for COVID-19. If you are unemployed due to COVID-19, please contact your local unemployment office.




Is FEMA seizing medical supplies?


FEMA is not seizing or re-routing personal protective equipment (PPE) being distributed internally within the United States to local or state governments, hospitals or any commercial entities. If a hospital believes this has happened to them, it should be reported to the governor. If a governor believes that this has happened to their supplies, it should be reported to the FEMA Region. However, there are bad actors out there who are hoarding and price gouging. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has assembled a task force that has seized PPE from individual bad actors and businesses hoarding PPE. The perception that FEMA is “out-bidding” states and others for supplies is also incorrect. Due to the Defense Production Act (DPA) and the use of priority ratings for “reallocation” of critical resources, the federal government requirements for fulfillment are put ahead of other orders so we can best assist areas most in need of supplies. In this process, as FEMA processes orders through the supply chain we maintain close coordination with states to identify potential bidding conflicts. If a bidding conflict occurs, we work closely with the state or tribe to resolve it in a way that best serves their needs. Additionally, as part of the current agreement with distributors for Project Airbridge 50 percent of the supplies on each international flight are directed by the distributors to customers in areas with the most critical needs for those supplies based on HHS and CDC data. If a company decides to cancel on a state contract in favor of a federal one, we work with the company and the state to resolve the matter in a way that best serves the people.




Did FEMA block shipments of ventilators to my state?


FEMA did not block shipments of ventilators to any state. FEMA works with HHS and federal partners to coordinate distribution of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), from multiple sources including the Strategic National Stockpile, private industry donations, federal interagency allocation, and vendor procurements. These shipments are being sent with prioritization given to the areas with greatest need.




Is 5G cellphone technology linked To the cause of Coronavirus?


A worldwide online conspiracy theory has attempted to link 5G cell phone technology as being one of the causes of the coronavirus. Many cell towers outside of the U.S. have been set on fire as a result. 5G technology does NOT cause coronavirus.




Is FEMA deploying the military?


On March 22, President Trump directed the Secretary of Defense to permit full federal reimbursement, by FEMA, for some states’ use of their National Guard forces. FEMA has executed a fully reimbursable mission assignment to the Department of Defense, including reimbursement for pay and allowances of National Guard personnel serving in a Title 32 duty status in fulfillment of the FEMA mission assignment. In addition, the Department of Defense has deployed the U.S.N.S. Comfort to New York and the U.S.N.S. Mercy to Los Angeles. FEMA has also issued mission assignments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and build alternate care sites in support of the COVID-19 response.




Is DHS deploying the National Guard?


On March 22, President Trump directed the Secretary of Defense to permit full federal reimbursement, by FEMA, for some states’ use of their National Guard forces. The President’s action provides Governors continued command of their National Guard forces, while being federally funded under Title 32. Each state’s National Guard is still under the authority of the Governor and is working in concert with the Department of Defense.




I got a call, text, or email saying I could get financial help. Is it legitimate?


There have been reports that scammers are pretending to be the government, contacting people by robocall, text message, email and other outreach. These scammers say they can get people financial help during the COVID-19 pandemic, and then ask for money or personal information, like your Social Security, bank account or credit card number. This is a SCAM. Don’t trust anyone who offers financial help and then asks for money or personal information. Federal and local disaster workers do not solicit or accept money. The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, U.S. Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control staff never charge for disaster assistance. The Federal Trade Commission scams page has tips to help you avoid scams online, on the phone, by text and through email. If you see a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission: ftc.gov/complaint.




Are there any vaccines to prevent or medicines to treat COVID-19?


Currently, there are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs specifically for the treatment of COVID-19. Researchers are studying new drugs, and drugs that are already approved for other health conditions, as possible treatments for COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information for health care providers about these potential treatments. The FDA is protecting consumers from unapproved products and false or misleading claims. Consumers and health care professionals can help by reporting suspected fraud to the FDA’s Health Fraud Program or the Office of Criminal Investigations.




I’m on Medicare, and someone offered me a COVID-19 test if I provide my medicare information. Should I accept?


If you receive any calls like this, please know that it is a scam to get your private personal information. Beneficiaries are being targeted in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits. Do not give out your Medicare, Medicaid, or Social security numbers. And be cautious about any unsolicited requests for your personal information. If you think you need to be tested for the Coronavirus, please call your doctor, who can advise you on what tests you may need.




Are older people and those with existing conditions the only ones at risk for Coronavirus?


Older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of serious illness. But anyone can become sick, and symptoms can range from mild to severe regardless of how old you are or if you have other medical conditions.




Is the government sending everyone money?


A stimulus package has been passed by Congress to help Americans in need. As information becomes available, it will be updated on www.coronavirus.gov. Unfortunately, scammers are using COVID-19 to take advantage of people. Don’t trust anyone who tells you they can get you money now. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has more information about scams, including COVID-19 scams.




Is there a national lockdown or quarantine?


No. States and cities are responsible for announcing curfews, shelters in place, or other restrictions and safety measures.




Should I stock up on food and supplies?


Please only buy what your family needs for a week. Buying weeks or months of supplies in advance leads to shortages and makes it difficult for other families to take care of themselves. Consumer demand has been exceptionally high, especially for groceries, cleaning supplies, and healthcare products. Supply chains haven’t been disrupted, but stores need time to restock.




Should I worry about hantavirus?


No. The main way hantavirus spreads to people is through infected mice and rats. It is possible to catch hantavirus from another person, but it’s extremely rare. For more information about hantavirus, visit the CDC’s website.




How can I know if a charity is a legitimate organization?


It is wise to give only to charities you are already familiar with. Most reputable organizations do not directly solicit donations from individual consumers by telephone or door-to-door visits. Do not use links embedded in unsolicited emails to access an organization's website. The following resources can help you research charities: CharityWatch formerly known as The American Institute of Philanthropy, is a charity watchdog group which helps donors make informed choices. Guidestar gathers data on millions of IRS-recognized non-profits.




What is price gouging?


the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act provides that it is a false, misleading or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor under Chapter 418, Government Code, or the President by: 1. Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or 2. Demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity. High prices alone do not mean that price gouging has taken place, as businesses are generally allowed to determine the prices for their products. File a Consumer Complaint with the Texas Office of the Attorney General to report a suspected price gouging incident.




Will exposing mysef to the sun or high temperatures prevent COVID-19?


You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.




Can I recover from COVID-19? Will I have it for the rest of my life?


Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.




Is holding my breath a good way to see if I have COVID-19?


Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have the virus producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.




Does alcohol prevent COVID-19?


Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous. Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems.




Can COVID-19 be transferred to hot or humid climates?


Yes, from the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.




Can cold weather or snow kill COVID-19?


There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.




Will taking a hot bath prevent COVID-19?


Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.




Can I get COVID-19 from a mosquito?


To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.




Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?


No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.




Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus?


UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.




How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus?


Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.




Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus?


No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.




Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?


No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts. Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.




Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?


No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.




Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?


Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.




Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?


No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment. However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.




Beware of COVID-19 related scams


Unfortunately, the scam artists never stop. During times of emergency these unscrupulous people become even more active, and some citizens become more vulnerable. None of us are immune to these scam artists, but they tend to particularly target older adults. Here are some scams that have been reported around the country. Beware, and be sure to talk to your older family members, friends and neighbors to make sure they do not become victims. Counterfeit Stimulus Checks: You might receive a fake check with a number to call for you to verify your information. Providing this information to them is simply a way for them to gain access to your checking account so they can take your money or use your personal information to secure credit cards and other documents. IRS Scams: Someone calls you pretending to be from the IRS saying that they need your financial information in order for you to receive your stimulus check. Don’t fall for this! The IRS has told us that they will never call you unless they are returning your call. They will also not contact you via text message or on social media. Fake COVID Vaccines/Test Kits: Someone might try to sell you test kits or other products that they say you can use to test for the virus or that will prevent the virus. These might be vaccines, pills with high doses of Vitamin C or some kind of air filter system that they say will remove COVID-19 from the air in your home. There is no cure or vaccine for this virus and testing is only available from your medical professional or through your local and state governments. And, none of these are delivered to your house. Errands-Grocery-shopping/Medication Pick-up: Be careful of someone you don’t know calling to offer to run errands for you such as grocery shopping and picking up medications or other supplies. These individuals will take your cash and never be seen again, leaving you empty-handed. Scams Targeting Your Social Security Benefits: Someone is calling you to say that, due to COVID-19, your Social Security benefits will be decreased or suspended unless you provide personal information or send them money to maintain regular benefit payments during this period. Whether by text, email or letter, any communication saying that you will not receive your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam. Online Shopping: Many of us are now going online to buy groceries, medical masks and cleaning supplies. Be sure to purchase these goods directly from an established store or internet service that offers contactless delivery. Some others may not even have the goods that you’re trying to order. Person in Need Scams: This is a variation of the grandchild scam. Someone might contact you claiming to be a grandchild, friend, or relative who is ill or stranded someplace and needs for you to send them money. They might also ask you to keep it a secret. Hang up and call the person they’re pretending to be to see if they are okay. Do not send money unless you are sure their story checks out. Census Scam: Census scammers may contact you by phone, email, regular mail or visit you seeking your personal and financial information. They may also tell you that this information is required before you can receive your stimulus check. Real Census workers will never ask for financial information and receiving your stimulus check is not connected with completing the Census.





Got a COVID-19 question?

Hearing a rumor?

Send an email to aking@detcog.org

2019 by Deep Texas Council of Governments