Facts Matter: Story of road workers given fentanyl is fake

A Facebook post earlier this month contained a letter, purportedly written by management of Precision Pipeline, informing employees about a recent incident involving two workers.

"We regret to inform you of a tragic incident that occurred two days ago involving NPL Pipeline Company in the Chicago suburbs. During the project, two flaggers were offered bottles of water by an unknown individual in a passing car. Sadly, one of the flaggers lost their life, and the other flagger is currently in critical condition. After conducting an investigation, it is suspected that the water provided to the flaggers was laced with fentanyl, a potent and dangerous opioid," reads the letter dated July 20.

But this story doesn't hold water, according to USA Today. There is no evidence it happened.

It appears NPL Pipeline Company refers to NPL Construction Co., a natural gas infrastructure organization with offices in Chicago and Naperville. However, NPL Construction posted a statement on its social media platforms claiming the story is false.

"No NPL employees have been involved in any incident of this nature anywhere throughout the country. We are unsure where this story originated but can confirm no NPL employees have been harmed in this way," read a July 21 Facebook post from NPL Construction.

A spokesperson for Chicago's Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, division took to Twitter to comment on the report.

"Don't believe everything on social media, especially urban legends/misinformation about construction workers and fentanyl-laced water bottles," Luis Agostini, a public information officer for the DEA's Chicago division, tweeted on July 21.

No COVID vaccines lost in tornado hit

A tornado hit a Pfizer, Inc. manufacturing plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on July 19, damaging the roof of a warehouse facility. Some social media users appear to have insight into what was lost.

"BREAKING NEWS: A Pfizer Warehouse Full of Covid Vaccines Was Just DESTROYED BY A TORNADO in North Carolina," read a July 19 tweet that included a 10-second video showing the damage to the building.

Although the facility did take a hit, there were no COVID vaccines involved, according to Reuters.

A Pfizer spokesperson told Reuters there are no COVID vaccines produced or stored at that facility.

The North Carolina plant is among the world's largest producers of "sterile injectables made for use in hospitals, including anesthesia, analgesics and anti-infective medicines," Reuters reported. That facility provides nearly 25% of those medicines in the U.S.

The majority of Pfizer's COVID vaccines are manufactured at and distributed from plants in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Romney is not switching political parties

Recent social media posts have floated the idea that Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is planning to switch political parties.

"Senator #MittRomney Threatens to Leave Republican Party and Join Democrats," wrote a Twitter user. "News for him he always been a democrat pretending to be a Conservative," a different tweet read.

But there is no evidence Romney is thinking of switching sides, according to The Associated Press. A spokesperson for the Utah senator said the claim is false.

"There is zero truth to misinformation spread by online bots," Romney spokesperson Paige Waltz told the AP.

Romney, last elected to the Senate in 2018, is up for reelection next year. Earlier this year, he listed his party as "Republican" when he filed his statement of candidacy form for the 2024 election.

Romney went against his party when he voted to convict former President Donald Trump twice in two different impeachment trials. The Utah Republican Party brought a motion to censure Romney in 2021, but the motion failed by a 798 to 711 vote.

Luke Bryan story is satire

Officials at Country Music Television, or CMT, recently made the decision to not play singer Jason Aldean's "Try That in a Small Town" music video. A recent story posted on social media claims Country singer Luke Bryan is not allowing his videos to be shown on CMT.

"Luke Bryan pulls his videos from CMT: 'Time for the Bud Light treatment,'" reads the headline on a screenshot of an article posted July 21 on Facebook.

But the story is false, according to PolitiFact. Although it's being shared as actual news, the fake story originated on a satirical website. A CMT spokesperson told PolitiFact that Bryan did not pull his videos.

The story contains clues that it isn't real. The article says Bryan told "Executive Vice President Joe Barron, 'Until you reinstate Jason's video and issue him a formal apology, you get nothing from my label.'" But there is not an executive vice president at CMT named Joe Barron.

The story originated on the Dunning-Kruger Times website which contains the disclaimer, "Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real."

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

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