Fact check: Social media users spread fake Betty White quote about getting a Covid-19 booster shortly before she died

Here’s a fact check for four of the many false claims that circulated in late December and early January.

Legendary actress Betty White died on December 31 at the age of 99. His agent and longtime friend, Jeff Witjas, told CNN that White had died peacefully in his sleep of natural causes.

But some social media users have been sharing an alleged quote from White who allegedly said, three days before her death, that “I was driven today.” The alleged quote has been used to suggest that the booster played a role in White’s death.

Facts first: the quote is false. White never said she received a booster shot on December 28, and agent and friend Witjas says she did not receive any booster shots. “Betty never received a booster before she passed away,” Witjas said in an email Tuesday to CNN, “period.”

It is also worth emphasizing that even if someone received a booster and then died shortly after, that would not be evidence that this person died due to the booster. Booster vaccines, like other Covid-19 vaccines, have been shown to be safe.
The fake quote was previously debunked by publications like PolitiFact, The Dispatch, and Snopes.

A fake screenshot about the White House

Chris Buskirk, editor and publisher of the right-wing website American Greatness, tweeted An image from December 20 that looked like it was taken from the White House website.

Titled “President Biden’s New Winter Plan,” the image featured a list beginning with these three items: “Learn about restrictions on interstate travel,” “Read about the new booster requirements,” and “See the new quarantine centers in the United States. ” “

Facts first: This image is fake, an alteration with Photoshop. No such list ever appeared on the White House website. And the Biden administration has not announced plans to restrict travel between states, to open “new quarantine centers” or to force people to take booster injections. A plan for a winter pandemic the White House published as of early December it does not include any of these alleged policies.
It is possible that the Biden administration will eventually announce some kind of reinforcement requirement for some Americans; Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in December there were “active discussions” about making boosters mandatory for members of the military, who are already required by the Pentagon to be “fully vaccinated” (with one or two injections, depending on the vaccine, but not a booster). But that future possibility doesn’t make the screenshot any less fake.

Buskirk, who had about 43,000 Twitter followers in early January, added his own inflammatory words to the screenshot, stating in his tweet that Biden “apparently” wanted to “open concentration camps,” referring to the alleged “new concentration camps.” quarantine”. Buskirk’s tweet was retweeted by JD Vance, a Republican candidate for a US Senate seat in Ohio, who had more than 171,000 followers in early January.

Vance deleted his retweet the same day, after conservative website The Bulwark pointed out that the image was fake. But Buskirk’s own tweet has been online for more than two weeks. He was still active on Wednesday even though CNN had emailed him Tuesday to tell him the image was fake and ask for a comment. Buskirk did not reply.

A false claim about the disappearance of diseases.

Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, who served three years in prison for tax fraud and other crimes but was later pardoned by President Donald Trump. tweeted December 27: “Has anyone ever wondered what happened to the common cold, flu, allergies, bronchitis, asthma, etc …? They have all disappeared! Now it’s all Covid. How stupid and naive it is the American people and when is this going to stop? “
Kerik, who had more than 273,000 Twitter followers in early January, did not explain what he meant by his conspiratorial comment that Americans are stupid and naive, and did not respond to a CNN request for an explanation. (There have been false claims throughout the pandemic that flu cases are being deliberately misclassified as Covid-19 cases.) But Kerik’s claim about the disappearance of several diseases was false regardless.
Facts first: The common cold, flu, bronchitis, and asthma continue to exist. It is true that 2020-2021 was an exceptionally mild flu season; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with outside experts, saying The measures people were taking to limit the spread of Covid-19 were likely helping to limit the spread of the flu as well. But Flu Circulation in the US returned to normal levels in late 2021.
Lynnette Brammer, leader of the CDC’s national influenza surveillance team, said in an email to CNN this week: “While influenza activity during the 2020-21 influenza season was historically low, it is not accurate to say that the flu is gone. There were still flu viruses. ” in circulation during 2020-2021, albeit at very low levels. This season, we have already started to see an increase in flu activity to levels similar to what we might have seen at this time of year prior to the pandemic, signaling the return of a more typical season. flu circulation “.
The CDC reported that 1,825 people had been admitted to hospitals with influenza in the week ending Dec. 25, up from 1,269 people the previous week.
Less than 24 hours after Kerik’s tweet about the supposed “disappearance” of the flu and other ailments, tweeted ran a Fox News article with a headline contradicting his original tweet: “Flu Season Resurfaces In America As Omicron Cancels Flights, Stokes NYE ​​Fears.” Here, too, he adopted a conspiratorial tone, writing: “THEY FOUND IT !!!!”
But nothing had actually been “found”. The media had been saying for months that flu activity in the United States was likely to be higher this season than last. CNN reported 12 days before Kerik’s original tweet that flu cases in the US were on the rise.

Another non-existent link between a sports injury and vaccinations

NFL player Donald Parham Jr., tight end for the Los Angeles Chargers, suffered a concussion during a game on Dec. 16. In a terrifying incident, his head hit the ground as he tried to catch a pass. After he lay motionless on the ground with his arms raised in a bent position, a known response to concussions, he was carried off the field on a stretcher.
But some social media users claimed that Parham had experienced a serious heart problem related to Covid-19 vaccines, with at least one user claiming that his heart had exploded in midair after recently receiving his booster shot.
Facts first: The claims linking Parham’s injury to Covid-19 vaccines are not only false but ridiculous. There is no reason to doubt that Parham had a concussion; What happened during the televised incident was entirely consistent with that diagnosis, which was Announced by the Chargers on December 17. There is no indication that he suffered from a catastrophic heart problem.
Parham posted a thumbs-up photo on Twitter on December 17, saying It was “good” and promised to return “better than before”. He was discharged from the hospital December 18.
For months, social media users have baselessly linked the medical problems of various athletes to Covid-19 vaccines. FactCheck.org debunked a bunch of these claims here; Reuters has debunked false claims about Parham’s injury in particular.

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