Facts Matter: CDC's beard chart unrelated to coronavirus prevention

Updated 2/29/2020 8:30 PM

A misleading story circulating on social media claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends men shave their beards to protect against the coronavirus, according to PolitiFact.com. The post includes an old graphic unrelated to the coronavirus.

The infographic, which was originally published in a 2017 CDC blog post, addressed a No-Shave November campaign, designed to promote cancer education and awareness. The chart, which includes 36 different illustrations, shows facial hairstyles best suited for facepiece respirators. It is not about disease prevention, and the CDC has made no recommendation that men shave facial hair.


Clean shaven, a soul patch, the toothbrush, the walrus, the Zappa and a handlebar mustache are listed among the most effective facial-hair styles for using a respirator. A full beard, stubble, the Van Dyke, the Dali, the french fork and the Fu Manchu would not work with a tight-sealing respirator, according to the chart.

An article published by CNN last week used the old graphic while reporting the CDC has suggestions about facial hair and coronavirus safety.

Respirators are different from surgical masks, which are mainly worn to protect others from coughs and sneezes, PolitiFact said. A respirator covers the nose and mouth and protects against particles including infectious agents. The CDC does not recommend routine use outside of workplaces.

Biden criticizes Trump over a Bloomberg-backed policy

During a Feb. 20 interview, former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said President Donald Trump wants to fingerprint people receiving food stamps, claiming the practice is "immoral."

"Look what this president's doing right now. Look what people have done before. They're going to fingerprint food stamp recipients," Biden said.

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Since Trump took office, nearly 6 million people are no longer on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which was previously known as food stamps, The Washington Post said. The president has suggested tighter requirements for participating in the program.

But there is no evidence he wanted to include fingerprinting in those requirements.

Biden's fellow presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg, however, was a strong advocate of fingerprinting food stamp recipients when he was mayor of New York, The Washington Post said.

The fingerprinting program, begun under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, was in place when Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. Bloomberg's administration continued the practice until Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended it across the state in 2012.

Bloomberg defended the program during a 2018 interview and a campaign spokeswoman recently told The Washington Post the former mayor feels "fingerprinting made sense as a way to make sure people only signed up (for food stamps) once."


A spokesman for Biden's campaign told the Post the candidate meant to say Bloomberg, not Trump, was in favor of fingerprinting.

Video of Pelosi altered

An altered video showing speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi appearing to lash out at a reporter has racked up thousands of views on social media, according to The Associated Press.

The video, titled "Crazy Nancy" as it makes the rounds on Facebook, is from a February interview Pelosi did with CNN host Christiane Amanpour in Munich, Germany.

In the original video, when Amanpour asked about President Donald Trump's acquittal in the Senate, Pelosi said, "He can say he is acquitted and the headlines can say acquitted, but he is impeached forever, branded with that and not vindicated."

In the doctored version of the clip, Pelosi's image is enlarged on the screen and it includes the words "Crazy Nancy lashes out at reporter for saying President Donald Trump was acquitted."

The manipulated video then includes selected pieces of the footage and audio from comments Amanpour made during last year's South by Southwest film festival, the AP said. It makes it appear Pelosi is laughing as Amanpour says, "We are in an existential moment now. We are at peril and at risk if we don't know the difference between truth and lies."

Video doesn't show Bernie supporters

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in February tweeted out a video showing people on the street who couldn't identify any countries on a world map. He identified the people in the video as supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

"This is Bernie's base," Cruz said in the tweet. "The same folks who tell pollsters that socialism is great because free stuff is cool and they have no idea how many countries have tried it and utterly failed. The antidote: facts, truth and substance."

The video, however, was from a 2018 comedy bit that appeared on the late-night show "Jimmy Kimmel Live," according to Snopes.com. The people in the video were not identified as supporters of any candidate or party.

"Unfortunately, the guys talking about facts, truth and substance made that all up," Kimmel said during Wednesday's show.

Kimmel said the crew didn't know who the people on the street supported and Sanders wasn't running at the time the video was shot.

Kimmel's crew revised the idea Wednesday but this time only used people on the street who identified themselves as Republicans. None of those people could identify any country on the same world map.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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