Did Michigan ban gardening? Debunking 4 coronavirus claims spread on social media

(Shutterstock, CNN)

DETROIT – In the last several weeks, many false or misleading theories have surfaced on social media about coronavirus, and the response to coronavirus.

We’re taking a look at some of these messages circulating the internet, to see if there’s any credible information available to support it -- or to debunk it.

Michigan banned sales on seeds, gardening, American flags

This is false.

This idea is one of the biggest drivers that sparked a massive protest in Lansing on Wednesday. According to Politifact, this is not specified anywhere in Gov. Whitmer’s stay-home order.

“In reality, executive order 2020-42, which went into effect April 9, 2020, requires larger stores to block off certain areas of their sales floors as a way of limiting the number of people in those stores. The order does not ban gardening or the sale of any product, including, as we mentioned in a previous fact-check, American flags.”

And according to the state of Michigan, “While the order places certain limits on how goods are sold, it does not ban Michiganders from buying any item, including flags.”

There’s also absolutely no ban on doing anything in your backyard. And many items are available for sale online.

Gov. Whitmer’s order does deem landscaping services as “non-essential,” but some localities have decided not to enforce it.

Hospitals are counting all deaths as COVID-19 related

This is false.

According to FactCheck.org, many viral posts wrongly suggest that the COVID-19 death toll is exaggerated because “the state” has instructed that “anyone who didn’t die by a gun shot wound or car accident” be listed as a coronavirus victim.

Experts say there is no such default classification — and that the U.S. death count is probably underestimated.

FactCheck.org says there’s no evidence that any state has adopted a policy to classify all deaths, regardless of the individual circumstances, as being related to COVID-19.

Sally Aiken, the president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, called the allegation “ridiculous.”

“Death certificates are basically federal, and each state has a public health division that answers to the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] for death certification,” Aiken, the Spokane County, Washington, medical examiner, told us in an email. “For all practical purposes death certification is directed by the feds, via health departments.”

“Medical Examiners and Coroners certify hundreds to thousands of deaths each year, using investigation, autopsies, and medical tests as required, and do not choose a ‘default diagnosis’ such as COVID-19.”

Aiken added that CDC offers guidance to public health officials on the certification of COVID-19 deaths. The latest guidance was issued April 2.

“If COVID–19 played a role in the death, this condition should be specified on the death certificate. In many cases, it is likely that it will be the [underlying cause of death], as it can lead to various life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS),” the guidance says. “In these cases, COVID-19 should be reported on the lowest line used in Part I with the other conditions to which it gave rise listed on the lines above it.” (Read more here from FactCheck.org)

President Trump is adding his name to stimulus checks, causing a delay

This is half true.

Paper checks of coronavirus relief payments approved by Congress to be sent to Americans will have President Donald Trump’s name printed on them, a Treasury Department official has confirmed to NBC News.

It won’t be a signature, but “President Donald J. Trump” will be printed on the fronts of the checks, the Treasury official confirmed. So that is true.

The Treasury Department official disputed that and said there would not be any delays.

“Economic Impact Payment checks are scheduled to go out on time and exactly as planned — there is absolutely no delay whatsoever,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said in a statement. “In fact, we expect the first checks to be in the mail early next week which is well in advance of when the first checks went out in 2008 and well in advance of initial estimates.”

Ibuprofen can make coronavirus worse

This is unproven. More here from Dr. Frank McGeorge:

The original question appears to have come from a statement made by France’s health minister over the weekend. He suggested taking anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen or cortisone could worsen infection.

That has since been picked up by the internet, and it’s now being reported that Ibuprofen is dangerous with a coronavirus infection. But there is absolutely no actual research or data to suggest Ibuprofen is dangerous with COVID-19. However, in other diseases, Ibuprofen isn’t completely harmless.

For example, there’s a growing body of evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen might increase the risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.

Ibuprofen has been linked to a rare infection in children with chickenpox, and there’s even a study from the Journal of Infections Diseases that found a higher rate of heart attacks in patients with respiratory infections.

In the absence of firm data, it’s premature to say Ibuprofen is harmful, but especially in older people, if there is a concern, take acetaminophen or Tylenol for a fever.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.