Facts V. Fear: How To Know the Truth About COVID-19

3 min read With constant rumors, speculation, and conflicting opinions surrounding COVID-19, it’s important to discover the facts.

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Photo Credit: (Robina Weermeijer) Some may find it hard to detect factual information surrounding the CVID-19 pandemic.

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By: Isabella Dominesey | Idominesey@radford.edu

As cases continue appearing in the City of Radford, fabrication, misinformation, and rumors regarding the virus come along.

The task of knowing facts from fiction is becoming more important with each new case. The first step in doing so: comes down to finding factual information.

Based on the population provided on Radford’s website and the data as of Sept. 8, the overall positivity rate of the school is about 3.84 percent.

With information about COVID-19 coming in from millions of sources all over the world, finding reliable facts proves difficult. For example, a Google search of “Do I have COVID-19?” comes back with over 9.08 billion results in a little over one second.

The key to finding accurate information in a broad search comes down to evaluating the direct source by double-checking all facts and watching for bias.

According to Alyssa Archer, a Radford University librarian and an Associate Professor, the best way to do so is by using the “S.I.F.T.” method.

“S” for “Stop” and think about the source, “I” for “Investigate” and see the author’s purpose or credentials, “F” for “Find” a trustworthy source, and “T” for “Trace” any claims or quotes back to the original context.

“It’s just about getting to know some sources that are reliable, that you can depend on, that have a high level of factuality to their stories,” Archer said.

Studying Student
Photo Credit: (Isabella Dominesey)Junior Brittany Sidney attempts to find valid COVID-19 information while working on homework.

COVID-19 related posts have also become very common on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These pictures and videos, although viewed by millions, are often not legitimate sources of information.

“If you see something on social media that really resounds with you, try to find another source that you do trust and investigate it further,” Archer said.

Having credible information and updates on the virus is necessary to stay informed and safe.

Radford University’s primary way of providing COVID-19 information to its students is through their COVID-19 Dashboard. The key is understanding the data and numbers in it and the slight skew the Dashboard has.

The middle number on the university’s Dashboard reads “Overall Positivity Rate” and lists “12.26 percent” as of Sept. 8. Typically, “overall” would mean the total number of positive cases out of all students.

Having credible information and updates on the virus is necessary to stay informed and safe.

However, on Radford’s Dashboard, that number only includes the number of students tested. Meaning 12.26 percent positive is out of the 2,629 people tested, not the school’s overall population.

To get the overall positivity rate out of everyone who goes to Radford University, the number of positive cases (358) must be divided by Radford University’s student body (9,335 as of 2019).

Based on the population provided on Radford’s website and the data as of Sept. 8, the overall positivity rate of the school is about 3.84 percent.

The importance of research and fact-checking, even university data, is crucial as the pandemic continues.

If students have any questions about finding reliable sources, how to fact check, or any research-related questions, they are encouraged to visit the research help desk at McConnell Library.