Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo launches coronavirus rumor control website to combat misinformation

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HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is launching a webpage to counter misinformation on the spread of the coronavirus.

Hidalgo said a new rumor control webpage, now available on ReadyHarris.org, will serve as a tool to help Harris County residents navigate facts and fiction regarding the virus. Developed in conjunction with Harris County Public Health (HCPH), the page will be updated with information to confirm or deny information regarding the virus and direct residents to trusted sources.

Hidalgo said since the outbreak of coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, several “unsubstantiated and misleading rumors” regarding the virus have spread online and on social media.

Hidalgo released the following written statement:

“We know there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the spread of this virus, but when it comes to understanding the threat of this virus we have to rely on facts, not fear. In our information age, unsubstantiated rumors can spread quickly, unnecessarily causing harm and anxiety to families and businesses in our area.

"The best way for residents to understand the current state of coronavirus is to rely on information from trusted sources. We want to partner with residents and empower folks to seek out reliable information so that they can make informed decisions on how best to stay safe.”

“Residents should know that we are working closely with federal, state, and local officials to monitor coronavirus. There are currently no cases of coronavirus in Houston, Harris County, or Texas. Should any cases occur, however, we will notify the public and advise any additional steps residents should take to protect themselves if necessary,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health.

“Our priority is to protect the health and well-being of the entire community. Though coronavirus is in the news, we encourage residents to continue taking common-sense steps to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu by covering their cough, contacting your healthcare provider or staying home if you are sick, and washing your hands.”

There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Harris County, health officials said. Harris County Public Health officials said they are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Texas Department of State and Health Services and other health partners in monitoring the developing outbreak and will promptly report any confirmed cases in the Harris County jurisdiction.

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