Thursday, November 26, 2020

When Scammers Erupt Like Locusts Where Can You Go for the Truth?

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

It would be a very good idea to equip yourself and your loved ones with sources of information to investigate those rumors and “too good to be true” offers, as well as locate needed information online without waiting on the phone for decades!

I received a “Cold Call” recently, one that I did not initiate, from an attorney in Ft. Lauderdale who just gave his name and phone number. No greeting, no nothing. I Googled him and he does exist, but what’s he calling me for? According to the Internet—where you can believe everything you read or NOT—he has a good reputation, but why is he calling me? Should I call him back and find out? Or treat it as a phishing scam—as in “fishing” for something, probably nefarious—and forget it? What if one of my relatives on the East Coast needs help? Who calls and just leaves a name and phone number? I don’t know him from Adam. I may have to call a friend… an attorney friend.

Another scammer. I received an email from someone who supposedly is an employee of the school district where I work. “She” asked me for my PW to double-check it as part of a routine, blah blah blah. I even checked her name in our directory to see if “she” was an employee and her name was listed. So, I called my techie friend and she said, “Delete it! It’s a phishing scheme. If you give your PW, he/she will use your account to infect others.” What happened to integrity? Malicious people are causing trouble for the rest of us.

Just the Facts Please

To find the most up-to-date coronavirus information and guidance for Florida, you can visit the Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 webpage by typing in your Search Engine: FLDOH Covid. Infections by County are updated; and sadly, deaths are also.

IRS Information

Waiting for financial relief? Here’s the official IRS site, that might help you with your questions: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center.

There are many areas to help you on this site. One statement that was very interesting was the following: “Here is what you need to know about your Economic Impact Payment. For most taxpayers, payments are automatic, and no further action is needed. This includes taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees.”

There are many sections to peruse and find what you’re looking for, here are just some of them:

On April 16th, Governor DeSantis said at 5 PM news conference that the pressure on the unemployment system in past years totaled about 100 applications a day. Now, the number is 80,000 but wasn’t clear if that was per day. Or whether that’s the total of applications to date. If it is, you can see why the system is overloaded.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The site for updated information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is this: cdc.gov

The information below is copied from the April 16 update, right from the CDC site.

Summary from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

What is already known on this topic?

Implementing community mitigation strategies, including personal protective measures persons should adopt in community settings, social distancing, and environmental cleaning in community settings, during a pandemic can slow the spread of infections.

What is added by this report?

During February 26–April 1, 2020, community mobility (a proxy measure for social distancing) in the metropolitan areas of Seattle, San Francisco, New York City, and New Orleans declined, decreasing with each community mitigation policy issued and as case counts increased.

What are the implications for public health practice?

Public policies to increase compliance with community mitigation strategies might be effective in decreasing community mobility; however, more information is needed to assess the impact on disease transmission.

One thing for sure, we are not at the end of this pandemic. However, obtaining reliable information from trusted sources is what we need to feel reassured, to the best of our ability. There are all kinds of quack treatments being touted as cures. Would you rely on dried donkey skins, for example, cooked and made into a glue-like substance that can, when eaten, cure almost anything? Heck NO! Who’d believe that nonsense? Some people do.

The World Health Organization

Type in World Health Organization or WHO in your browser. 

There’s a plethora of factual information on this site to answer most questions you have. For example, did you know that in COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease? I didn’t. And the 19 stands for the year it was discovered.

The World Health Organization, (WHO), founded in 1948 in Geneva, Switzerland, was created as a specialized agency of the United Nations to coordinate health affairs in the United Nations and respond to international health crises. 

Currently, the United States is the largest contributor to this organization. In the past, the WHO has tackled global health emergencies such as polio eradication, child health programs, smallpox, regulatory oversight of medicines, Ebola, coordinating and supporting international responses to health emergencies such as disease outbreaks, tropical disease research, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis to name a few. The goal is promoting and advocating for better global health. 

The World Health Organization is comprised of many nations and leaders from each country. With this strong unity, it has a better and faster chance of understanding the issues from each of their member countries and coordinating assistance. Working in isolation to solve global health emergencies is counterproductive. Go back and read the list again. How could these health crises be solved without the best minds in the world working together?

Dr. Craig Spencer, MD MPH, serves on the board of directors of Doctors Without Borders and is the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. He recently stated, “The World Health Organization is the only organization in the world with the infrastructure and ability to identify emerging diseases as it did with COVID-19 and every major health threat in modern history. Limited funding leads to limited capacity, which leads to suboptimal operations; in this case, suboptimal is often the difference between life and death… we must build up in the World Health Organization, not tear it down.”

Outsmart the scammers, whether by phone or by mail. Instead, pursue legitimate organizations that are out there trying their best to help the rest of us to defeat COVID-19.

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