Updated Rant of the Day:  Facebook and Coronavirus – collision course!

Updated Rant of the Day: Facebook and Coronavirus – collision course!

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Earlier today, we checked Facebook one last time before writing this. Some 1,700 people had shared a certain post. In fact, people were ensuring they spread the word beyond Greater Rome. Around 50 comments had been posted – some supportive, others politely asking questions. We can only guess how many views the post received.

John Druckenmiller, president and publisher of Hometown Headlines.

At issue: A Rome woman recounted what her son reportedly experienced at an urgent care clinic. We weren’t there and neither were those 1,700 people sharing the Facebook post. But this post was on the Redmond Urgent Care Facebook page late Tuesday:

Redmond Urgent Care Earlier today, we had a patient who had recently traveled internationally to various airports (not to China) and wanted to be tested as a precaution even though they presented with no significant symptoms.

We contacted the CDC (our standard procedure for situations like this) and reviewed the case with them. They stated that the patient did not meet the criteria for having coronavirus and did not pose any risk.

Hope that helps!

Conclusion: Through prescreenings, it was determined there was no need to do a test on the patient. There was no subsequent hospitalization or treatment.

The Rome woman’s post sparked widespread reaction on Facebook. And we do know area healthcare officials were in overdrive late Tuesday afternoon and into the night trying to find answers.

Contributing to it all was a Tuesday afternoon news release from the Georgia Department of Public Health that some 200 people in Georgia are self-monitoring themselves after returning from separate trips to other parts of China.

As of the last check we made, there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Georgia. That includes Rome, Ga. And Floyd County. And any contiguous county.

On the state level at least, that is bound to change even with the most proactive steps possible. Public health officials continue to urge all of us to practice safety standards, many of which we already do as we’re in the height of flu season. More on that in a minute.

But first: The collision course between Facebook and coronavirus. You knew it was coming. Social media has some great amenities but likewise is a loose cannon. Even the most well-intended heads up post can be corrupted. And that’s nothing new: As a species, people have been taking basic fact and adjusting it a bit to make the story better as they pass it along. It started with hieroglyphics.

People are scared of the unknown and we sure don’t know a lot about coronavirus. All we can recommend is that folks check for more detail, especially from trusted healthcare sources, before reacting. Inform, not inflame.

But here’s what gets us: Look at the reaction from a report reportedly tied to an urgent care clinic about a potential what-if.

Where has all this been since October? We’ve been watching the state’s death count – as in rest in peace – continue to rise from the flu. To date, just as many people have died from the flu in Georgia since late September as they did in the entire previous flu season. 44 deaths to date and the next report is due Friday. The count stops in mid May so that shows you just how far we have to go in this very deadly flu season.

Where’s the blow up over this? Where are the 1,700 shares and 50 comments. Are they heeding the advice of medical professionals to get the flu shot? It can still help you this flu season.

Heck, one of the toughest men I know in this town – who got the shot – is down with flu type A right now. This guy is real man type of man, not the guy in the next cubicle who hasn’t shaved since puberty trying to look cool.

But no, a virus that is killing six to seven people a week or more in our state isn’t Facebook worthy. Instead, one post on what someone heard sparks a firestorm and gets a front row seat in the High Court of Facebook.

We knew this would happen on Facebook. As always, some people ran with the rumor before doing any fact checking. These normally are the same people who scream “fake news” when they read credible, fact-based stories that they don’t like.

Think about it: To some, do the facts matter if the news is salacious enough?

Unfortunately, coronavirus is a threat and Facebook loves a good threat. We only ask that those posting and those sharing to seriously fact check before spreading the news – fake or otherwise.


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