Facts Matter: Pence photo genuine, but links to coronavirus efforts are not

Updated 3/7/2020 4:54 PM

President Donald Trump recently appointed Mike Pence to oversee the effort to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S. Shortly after that, a photo showed up on social media claiming the vice president wasn't up to the job.

The image shows Pence at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida with his hand touching a piece of space equipment just below a "DO NOT TOUCH" sign. Social media users shared the photo with comments connecting it to the virus. One Twitter post included the line, "The man in charge of coronavirus response. What could go wrong?"


The photo is real, Snopes.com says, but it has nothing to do with the recent outbreak.

It was taken by Reuters July 6, 2017. The next day Pence took to Twitter to apologize for touching the equipment and jokingly blamed Marco Rubio, who was along on the trip, saying the Florida senator "dared me to do it!"

NASA officials let Pence off the hook, saying on Twitter, "It was OK to touch the surface. Those are just day-to-day reminder signs. We were going to clean it anyway."

Drinking water, eating garlic won't cure virus

Medical professionals are disputing some recent theories and methods that are offered to combat the coronavirus, according to The Associated Press.

One technique making the rounds on the internet claims people should drink sips of water every 15 minutes to wash down the virus to a point in which stomach acids will kill it off.

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Drinking water will stave off dehydration but it isn't a cure for the coronavirus, the AP said.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, told the AP people should drink fluids to keep mucus membranes moist but it won't protect against the virus.

"There is no clear indication that it directly protects you against complications," he said.

Garlic has also been touted as a cure for the coronavirus.

The World Health Organization said that although garlic has antimicrobial properties, there is no evidence the herb will do anything to cure the virus, the AP said.

Mexico still not paying for a border wall

President Donald Trump last week told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference that Mexico will be paying for a wall at the U.S. southern border.


"Yes they are. They're paying for it. And they're OK with it. Mexico's paying for it," Trump said.

But Mexico is not paying for the wall and Mexican officials have said they will never pay for it, <URL destination="https://apnews.com/28e60e866f6d32cdadedd126e292eba7">according to The Associated Press.

</URL>"Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall," then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Twitter in May 2018. "Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us)."

The border wall construction is being funded by billions of dollars taken from military programs and equipment spending when the money was diverted from the Pentagon's budget, the AP said.

In the past, Trump has said Mexico will be paying for the wall because his trade agreement with Mexico and Canada will generate enough money to cover the wall.

But if that happens, the funds would be money the U.S. could have used for something else, it would not be a payment from Mexico, the AP said.

Asteroid pass in April will miss Earth

An asteroid is expected to pass by the earth next month. But some media outlets publishing "clickbait headlines" about the potential danger of it hitting the planet are off-base, according to Snopes.com.

"Asteroid warning: NASA tracks a 4KM asteroid approach -- could end civilisation (sic) if it hits," lead a story last week on the website of the Daily Express, a newspaper based in London.

Although Asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2) will fly by Earth in April, it's not expected to come close and there is not a threat it will impact the planet, Snopes said.

NASA, which is currently tracking nearly 20,000 asteroids and meteors, discovered Asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2) in 1998. That large asteroid, between 1.1 and 2.5 miles in diameter will be traveling at 20,000 mph when it passes but it will be 3.9 million miles away from Earth.

NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies took to social media to clear up any confusion, saying on Twitter that the asteroid will "safely pass Earth" on April 29 and the Daily Express article "implying there is a 'warning' about this asteroid is false."

When the asteroid was discovered in 1998, NASA said it was "large enough to cause global effects if (it) impacted Earth."

• 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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