Facts Matter: Facts Matter: Biden misstates issues regarding paycheck protection and small businesses

Updated 5/30/2020 11:02 AM

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was at best misleading when he said much of the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, didn't go to the small businesses it was supposed to help get through the coronavirus epidemic.

During a May 20 virtual roundtable, Biden said the program is "a corrupt recovery that's focused on helping the wealthy, the well-connected, not the millions of mom and pops facing financial ruin, the warning signs are flashing. Forty percent of the initial small business funds didn't go to small businesses at all."


The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees. The agency didn't release information on the size of businesses receiving the funds. Biden relied on the loan size in making his claim, according to PolitiFact.com.

Biden referred to the first round of relief, ending April 16, in which 44% of the funds given to businesses was more than $1 million each, PolitiFact said. Data from loans given through May 16 shows funds of more than $1 million going to 36% of businesses. Nearly 40% of the PPP money went to larger loans.

A Biden spokesperson told PolitiFact the former vice president made his claim assuming larger loans meant larger businesses. PolitiFact noted loans of that size do not indicate the number of employees a company has but reflect operating budgets of at least several million dollars, given the rules for the loans.

PolitiFact rated Biden's claim "mostly false."

COVID-19 not about artificial intelligence

A meme making the rounds on social media, with more than 21,000 views, says COVID-19 is an acronym for Certificate Of Vaccination Identification, and the number 19 stands for artificial intelligence, or AI, the first and ninth letters of the alphabet.

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That claim isn't close to accurate, <URL destination=" https://apnews.com/c4a819f1e83d6395cf0015038fa7d4b6">according to The Associated Press.

</URL>COVID-19 is shorthand for COronaVirus Disease 2019 and was named by the World Health Organization in February.

The false social media post points to a Bill Gates assertion that there will be digital certificates to show who has been tested and vaccinated for coronavirus, the AP said. The statement was taken out of context to say Gates wanted to implant microchips in humans and increase digital surveillance.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told the AP that digital certificates were an effort "to create an open source digital platform with the goal of expanding access to safe, home-based testing."

Rules for Tomb of the Unknown Soldier guards overstated

Through the Memorial Day weekend, a post circulating on Facebook listed the strict rules that must be followed by the sentinels guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


The list contained a combination of true and false regulations for the honor guards, <URL destination="https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-tomb-unknown-soldier/fact-check-tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier-sentinels-must-observe-rigorous-protocols-but-can-still-drink-alcohol-off-duty-swear-in-public-idUSKBN2322DK">according to Reuters.com.

</URL>The post correctly said the guard marches 21 steps in front of each marker of the unknowns, turns and faces the tombs for 21 seconds, makes another 90-degree turn followed by a 21-second pause and repeats the process. The number 21 reflects a 21-gun salute, the military's highest honor.

Although the sentinels selected to guard the tomb must go through a rigorous training process, some claims in the Facebook post went too far, Reuters said. The guards are not required to live in a barracks under the tomb or abstain from alcohol, swearing and watching TV for the rest of their lives. They are only required to be in the barracks while on duty and are not forbidden from alcohol, swearing or television while off duty.

The social media list also said during Hurricane Isabel, the guards were ordered to leave their post but they refused. This is false, Reuters said. That order wasn't given and precautions are always taken to ensure the safety of the sentinels.

Hand sanitizer won't cause car fires

Internet posts say leaving an unattended bottle of hand sanitizer in a hot car could cause the bottle to spontaneously combust, resulting in a fire inside the vehicle.

The early posts on WhatsApp and Telegram were written in Portuguese, according to Snopes.com. The information made the rounds on social media in Brazil and later showed up on English-language accounts, accompanied by a photo of a burned car.

Although hand sanitizers contain alcohol that could be flammable, it is unlikely a bottle will spontaneously combust, Snopes said.

Hand sanitizer would have to be exposed to temperatures over 700 degree Fahrenheit to spontaneously combust, according to a National Fire Protection Association report. The temperature inside a car left in the sun on a hot day can be as high as 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Western Lakes Fire District of Wisconsin on May 21 shared the post on Facebook, including the image of the burned car, which had not been officially linked to an incident of hand sanitizer starting a fire, Snopes said. The district later removed the post and replaced it with a post about fire safety and apologized for any confusion.

• 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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