No. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates did not concoct a coronavirus as a pretext for slipping microchips into a vaccine.

No. SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) is not a lab-manufactured biological weapon, unleashed on the world in some nefarious “plandemic.”

No. It is not being spread via 5G cellphone towers, nor by houseflies and mosquitoes.

Yes. There is currently no proven effective treatment. There is no vaccine available and there probably won’t be one for quite some time. There is no daily regimen or miracle supplement that will keep you from getting COVID-19. Bleach and Lysol, by the way, are not good to drink.

The various stay-at-home orders and business closures prescribed by governors in most states, blue and red, are not the first step toward a totalitarian, Socialist government. They are tools that had to be employed when we, as a society, botched our first response to a pandemic that might have been blunted long before we got this far.

We can argue about who is at fault for that and we can argue about the steps needed to mitigate this disease after it became pandemic, but we can’t wish it away and it is unproductive to frame those arguments on the basis of ludicrous claims made by media trolls and bogus websites masquerading as news sources.

The first question we need to ask ourselves when confronted with the latest spurious claim about the virus is: Is it credible on its face? The more outrageous the claim is, the more skeptical we should be.

Next, consider the source and note that “I read it on the Internet” is not a ringing endorsement of credibility. A Pew Research Center survey in 2019 found that 55 percent of Americans get at least some of their news via social media and a majority of them (57 percent) report that much of what they view online is “largely inaccurate.”

That’s good and bad news, partly healthy skepticism, partly partisan divide and partly distrust of the social media giants and the decisions they make about what we see online.

So, in these times when we all need to find some solid, common ground from which to defend ourselves against the virus, let’s be skeptical, but not distrustful.

There are plenty of good, authoritative, scientific sources of information. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) both have pages on their websites devoted to squelching rumors and busting myths. The Arizona Department of Health Services and the Santa Cruz County Health Departments provide local information about the virus in Arizona and the steps we can take to lessen its impact.

Don’t trust government agencies? Try the trusted folks at Mayo Clinic or the experts at Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Research Center and read authoritative news sources as a check on what your government is telling you.

Whether your favorite national source of information is NPR or Fox News, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you will find, beneath the bluster of the talking heads and the opinion pages, basic information about what is going on and how we should be dealing with it.

Regionally, The Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star are providing free access to their coronavirus stories, as are the Green Valley News, Sierra Vista Herald and the Nogales International.

Here at the nonprofit Patagonia Regional Times, where access to our news is always free, our editor and reporters are working harder than ever to offer, online and in print, the latest news on the coronavirus and its impacts on the lives of our neighbors in Patagonia, Sonoita, Elgin and eastern Santa Cruz County. A dramatic increase in the number of online visitors in the last two months demonstrates to us that you are relying on us to keep you informed.

We want to continue to be your trusted source of information for local news during this pandemic and we rely on you to help us in that task. Local newspapers have an advantage over national publications and social media – a direct connection to our readers, who are also our friends and neighbors. We count on you to let us know what’s going on or what you need to know.

Together, we can keep each other informed, safe and sane amid the madness. In the meantime, wash your hands, wear a mask in public and don’t drink the bleach.