Scam Texts and emails about Coronavirus are spreading fear faster than COVID-19. No, the government is not shutting down the grocery stores.
A scam text is scaring the heck out of a lot of people who are already nervous up the shutdown of restaurants and large gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This came at the same time a massive cyber attack was launched against the Department of Health and Human Services website.
The text, which has shown up on thousands of phones and messaging apps reads:
“Inside word from someone who works in the pentagon – trump is planning to shut down everything tomorrow. Please make sure you have or get food that will last for a week or more. It’s not 100% (we all know how the telephone game works) but I wanted to share with you & make sure you all are set before panic mode hits”
The National Security Council says it just isn’t so. It tweeted a denial of the claims and said the rumors are a scam.
The cyber-attack flooded HHS’s servers with requests in an attempt to slow down federal response to the pandemic. The attack was unsuccessful. It is not known if the fake messages were tied to the cyber-attack, but it is under investigation and the President has implied that foreign actors are trying to spread fear.
There have also been numerous scam emails that appear to be from government agencies and offer information like an update on the list of active Coronavirus infections if you click on a link. These links take you to a site that infects your device with malware.
Over the weekend, the President met or spoke with the heads of many national retail chains and assured Americans the stores would stay open, though they might make some adjustments to hours to keep up with restocking due to high demand for goods like toilet paper and non-perishable food.
Locally, information relating to COVID-19 will be distributed through Scioto County Emergency Management from their Emergency Operations Center. You can get the latest verified updates about the crisis by following their Facebook page. Emergency Management Director Kim Carver assured citizens that the county is well-prepared to face the COVID-19 crisis. “The Portsmouth City and Scioto County Health Departments took the lead in the area’s response in initial scope of infectious disease outbreak awareness and specific protocol circulation for frontline health partners, including local hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, EMS departments, and other first responders.”
When I spoke to County Commissioner Bryan Davis, he said it was important not to panic. “Everyone should maintain calm and do their part to mitigate exposure to themselves or others.”