The coronavirus has brought out the best and worst in our
The best, thank heavens, are the most prevalent. Across
Nevada and the nation, thousands have stepped forward to help those in need.
These volunteers realize they have a moral obligation to assist others who,
through no fault of heir own, have found themselves unable to provide food for
their families, have lost their jobs, are poor, ill or are vulnerable senior
citizens and shut-ins.
These wonderful people have banded together to distribute
meals, household items and face masks to the less fortunate. They check in with
their neighbors to see if they are well or need comfort and reassurance to
battle the social isolation that impacts many of us.
We are all in his together. When the pandemic subsides and
we slowly get back our lives, we’ll have many to thank for their goodness and
generosity. God bless those who have helped out during this terrible crisis.
Unfortunately, there are some among us who have no decency.
They have shown their cruelty toward the less fortunate by their greed and
trickery. I read and hear daily about their frauds, scams and deceptions. Many
are offering medical and personal protection devices such as disinfectants and
face masks at inflated prices. Fake coronavirus test kits are being peddled. A
man who appeared on a recent Saturday night TV show said he was taking bets on
how many would die from the virus. The hucksters take advantage of people’s
fears by selling pills, vaccines, food supplements and a variety of useless
medical treatments online they say will prevent or cure the deadly virus. The
FBI and the inspector general of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services have
warned that scammer also are approaching Medicare beneficiaries to demand their
Medicare numbers and other personal information in order to bill the government
for medical treatment never performed or costly equipment that isn’t needed.
The Federal Trade Commission, the agency tasked with
protecting American consumers from fraud and abuse, announced last week that it
has fielded about 17,000 complaints of coronavirus-related deception. The FTC
also warned against the purchase of fake coronavirus remedies that include the
sale of a herbal concoction called “Chinese Skullcap Root” sold by a
California yogi who calls himself “Dr. Fresh.” Numerous cures that allegedly
contain a silver solution to cure the virus also are sold on the Internet and
through social media, and one of those reportedly selling these products is the
disgraced television evangelist Jim Bakker, who spent nearly five years in
prison in the 1990s for defrauding his followers into purchasing memberships
and apartments in a resort hotel that catered to a Christian clientele. Bakker,
who has remarried following the death of his wife, Tammy Faye, is now being
pursued by a host of state and federal law enforcement agencies for promoting a
“Silver Solution” that allegedly will boost one’s immune system and kill the
coronavirus within 12 hours. “We’ve tested it and it works on about
everything,” Bakker exclaimed during a recent TV program.
Conspiracy theories regarding the virus also are
Many of us seek explanations for horrific events we are
unable to understand and control, and thus we fall prey to misinformation and
outright lies spread via social media, radio and TV. For example: The virus is
a product of soup made from bats, from an escaped bioweapon made in a U.S.
military laboratory (this has been espoused by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali
Khameni), and by anti-vaxxers who say the advent of the virus is connected to
an effort to foster vaccines on them. U.S. health officials also are warning
that conspiracy-spreader Alex Jones, who has pushed outrageous lies about
school shootings and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is now peddling bogus
coronavirus remedies such as special toothpastes and mouthwashes. Chinese
authorities are spinning a tale that U.S. Army officers who visited Wuhan, China,
last year purposely introduced the virus into that nation. And the Washington
Times, a conservative daily newspaper published in the nation’s capital, has
carried stories quoting right-wing radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh as stating
that the coronavirus is no more dangerous than the common cold.
The Better Business Bureau of Northern Nevada has just sent
me an email warning about coronavirus-related “top scams” proliferating
across the country that include “phishing” designed to gain access to your
banking and credit card information through your computer, price gouging for
the purchase of hand sanitizers, face masks and toilet paper and “charity
scams” run by thieves soliciting donations for virus victims and their
The world has been turned upside down by the spread of the
coronavirus pandemic. There are malicious people out there trying to make a
fast buck by feeding off the fears and confusion bred by the virus and its lack
of a cure or vaccine. But there are many more selfless, courageous volunteers
in our communities with hearts of gold. Let’s join them in their mission
to help the sick, needy and vulnerable. And let’s offer them our respect and
David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley
News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.