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“The Government Is Exaggerating The Number Of COVID-19 Deaths”

Millions of Americans still believe these coronavirus myths

ARS TECHNICA – From the very beginning, misinformation has plagued the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, undermining efforts to stop the spread of the disease and save lives.

New survey data from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) spotlights just how monstrous the problem of misinformation is.

Among a nationally representative sample of US adults, 78 percent reported that they had heard at least one of eight common COVID-19 falsehoods and either said the falsehood is true or said they’re not sure if it’s true or false.

The most common falsehood that people marked as true was that “the government is exaggerating the number of COVID-19 deaths.”

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they had heard this falsehood and that it is true.

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An additional 22 percent said they had heard it but weren’t sure if it is true or false.

The finding is likely unsettling to the surviving loved ones of the nearly 756,000 Americans who have already died of COVID-19. It also squares with previous survey results from KFF showing that personally knowing someone who became severely ill or died of COVID-19 was one of the strongest motivators for convincing unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.

Since June 1, around 160,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 amid the wide availability of death-preventing vaccines.

To date, only 68.4 percent of people eligible for vaccination in America (people ages 12 and above) are fully vaccinated. Nearly 79 percent have had at least one dose.

Myths and news

The next most common falsehoods respondents marked as true were that “deaths due to the COVID-19 vaccine are being intentionally hidden by the government”—18 percent said this is true and 17 percent said they aren’t sure—and that “pregnant women should not get the COVID-19 vaccine”—17 percent believe this and 22 percent are unsure.

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With more than 7.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered globally under intense monitoring, the vaccines have proven remarkably safe. Additionally, because pregnant people are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, vaccination is especially recommended to protect pregnant people and their babies … READ MORE. 

How Does Trust in News Sources Line Up with Misconceptions?

KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION – People’s trusted news sources are correlated with their belief in COVID-19 misinformation. At least a third of those who trust information from CNN, MSNBC, network news, NPR, and local television news do not believe any of the eight false statements, while small shares (between 11% and 16%) believe or are unsure about at least four of the eight false statements.

Larger shares of those who trust COVID-19 information from leading conservative news sources believe misinformation, with nearly 4 in 10 of those who trust Fox News (36%) and One America News (37%), and nearly half (46%) of those who trust Newsmax, saying they believe or are unsure about at least half of the eight false statements.

Whether this is because people are exposed to misinformation from those news sources, or whether the types of people who choose those news sources are the same ones who are pre-disposed to believe certain types of misinformation for other reasons, is beyond the scope of the analysis … READ MORE. 

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