Repurposed photos falsely claim coronavirus cover-up

Updated 4/18/2020 7:53 PM

Photos of medical personnel using mannequins during training are being shared as false proof of a coronavirus cover up, according to

"Please pray for this mannequin being wheeled into a New York hospital," headlined a photo of a dummy strapped to a stretcher. The Facebook post went on to claim the media is "using actors and props just to get the pictures and the press that they need."


The actual photos, taken last month, show U.S. Navy training operations as military members practiced transporting patients in New York City, LeadStories said.

The images, taken by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sara Eshleman and posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service website, show soldiers training to transfer patients from overcrowded New York hospitals to a Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, docked in the harbor.

The fake social media claims have been shared hundreds of times, LeadStories said. But at least one user thought the dummies were real.

"Looks like a human arm to me," the post said.

Social media offers fake cures

As scientists search for ways to treat the coronavirus, some "popular but completely untrue" methods and cures have made the rounds on social media, The Associated Press reports.

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A claim that drinking alcoholic beverages can prevent the disease was among the false treatments. A Facebook post, topped with, "Time to disinfect our insides," featured a fake memo from a Kansas City hospital recommending vodka as effective at reducing the risk of the virus.

"In fact, the evidence is often the opposite -- that alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of infection," Baylor College infectious disease specialist Dr. Robert Legare Atmar told the AP.

Other false claims:

• Placing antibiotic ointment inside your nostrils will kill germs before they can get to your lungs. Antibacterial medications fight off bacteria, not a virus like COVID-19, the AP said.

• COVID-19 has a pH level between 5.5 and 8.5 and people can eat alkaline foods to fend it off. Not true, according to the AP. A virus doesn't have a pH level and a person's pH level can't be changed through diet.


• People in India have prevented the virus by drinking hot water with lemon and bicarbonate of soda at night, resulting in no deaths in that country. In truth, people in India have died from the virus and that drink is not a preventive. "There are no herbal remedies I would recommend for COVID-19," Tufts Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron told the AP.

• Drinking tonic water brands that contain quinine can cure coronavirus. Not recommended, according to the AP. Users appear to be mixing up quinine with hydroxychloroquine, a possible therapy touted by President Donald Trump.

Microwave won't sanitize mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people wear face masks when they go outside during the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent Facebook post, shared more than 7,200 times, suggested placing those masks in a zip-lock bag and microwaving for 2-3 minutes to sanitize the them.

But the Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security warned against this cleaning method, <URL destination="">according to

</URL>An entry on the group's Facebook page said putting cloth masks in a microwave could burn the material or start a fire. If the mask contains any metal, it could destroy the microwave.

"Washing in warm water and antibacterial soap and a small amount of bleach will disinfect your masks of any germs. Yes, this includes COVID-19," the post said.

Some users shared the result of the microwave sanitation method, Snopes said.

One Facebook user wrote, "Please don't try it. It smells awful."

Murray didn't say that

A quote circulating on social media is mistakenly being attributed to actor Bill Murray, according to

A meme stating, "Social media is training us to compare our lives, instead of appreciating everything we are. No wonder why everyone is depressed -- Bill Murray," has appeared recently on Facebook.

The quote first showed up in 2015 but wasn't attributed to Murray or anyone else, PolitiFact said, but since has been associated with the actor.

Murray doesn't use social media and doesn't have an official Twitter account. And there is no evidence the quote came from him, PolitiFact said.

Murray has criticized the use of social media.

"My only problem with it is that people now feel they should document their life rather than live it," he told The Guardian in 2018.

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

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