Fact Check: Coronavirus Cases In U.S. NOT Linked To 5G Rollout

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fact Check: Coronavirus Cases In U.S. NOT Linked To 5G Rollout Not Linked!

Are cases of coronavirus in the United States linked to the rollout of 5G, the fifth-generation wireless technology? No, that's not true: A Facebook user has attempted to demonstrate a connection between one cellular provider's 5G network and the reported cases of coronavirus in the United States. However, this apples-and-oranges comparison is a fallacy. It all comes down to the concept of population density.

The claim originated in a post (archived here) published on Facebook by TrippyMuzik McBay on March 19, 2020. It opened:

did some research today and made this map overlay showing the new 5G towers and coronavirus outbreaks. Weird that they center around eachother
plz share
dont fall for this bs

Users on social media only saw this:

In his post, McBay said he made the map overlay to show a connection between new 5G towers and coronavirus outbreaks. It seems he overlaid AT&T's 5G coverage map with a coronavirus outbreak map from The New York Times.

However, correlation does not imply causation.

Cases of the novel coronavirus are more likely to be found in densely populated areas. The virus spreads through person-to-person contact, and the likelihood of coming into contact with someone in urban areas is higher than in rural communities.

It stands to reason that telecommunications companies would prioritize the rollout of new technology in those same population centers because that's where the majority of their customers live.

This is a map of the population density of the United States based on the 2010 Census:

1296px-United_States_Population_Density.svg.png

People commenting on the post noted the argument was unsound:

Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 1.51.14 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 1.52.14 PM.png

Lead Stories has already examined the suggestion that 5G technology is related to the spread of the coronavirus, a claim which is not supported by evidence.

The coronavirus is more likely to be found in densely populated areas, the same places that telecommunications companies would launch new 5G services. Even so, this doesn't mean that 5G is exacerbating the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some fact checks that Lead Stories has done related to 5G:

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  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

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