How to stay informed in times of crisis
The COVID-19 outbreak is currently affecting huge numbers of people worldwide; whether people are sick, under lockdown, or simply dealing with supply line disruptions, the pandemic is disrupting everything. With all that disruption many people are falling victim to inaccurate information. As an informational resource, we here at Infoplease want to help direct you to legitimate sources of information. With lives and livelihoods at stake, it's important that everyone acts with the best info they can.
The Center for Disease Control (or your local equivalent organization) is the best place to start in understanding the situation. If you live in this U.S., this is the most official information resource you have. The CDC is the country's leading public health organization. They are a government agency tasked with drafting the country's response to just such an event as this one. They also have a valuable page of novel coronavirus updates: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
No matter where you are in the world, you can also turn to the World Health Organization. This U.N. subsidiary coordinates worldwide health efforts, and makes recommendations for the global community. They have been monitoring the spread of the disease for some time, and have access to very valuable data. Like the CDC, they also have a useful up-to-date page on the novel coronavirus: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
We also recommend you check out any resources published by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS is responsible for enacting state and federal health policy. They are a likely source of any policy updates. The National Institute of Health and the Food and Drug Administration are two HHS subdivisions which are also useful sources. The NIH reports on many major health and medicine breakthroughs, while the FDA is responsible for testing drug safety.
Major News Sources
To keep up to date on developments with how the disease is spreading, and how the government is responding, stick to widely accepted news sources (like major newspapers and cable news outlets). While there is a presidential primary going on, any specific recommendations may seem partisan. We simply encourage that whatever source you use, you stick to one with a large national profile.
If you want a recommendation from the editorial staff, we highly recommend The Atlantic. The Atlantic is typically a (somewhat pricey) premium publication, but to help raise awareness and combat misinformation they have made their coronavirus reporting free to anyone. That's a mission we can respect, and the Atlantic has a good track record as one of the nation's oldest publications. You can find their coronavirus reporting at: https://www.theatlantic.com/category/what-you-need-know-coronavirus/
There are many inaccurate claims bouncing around the internet, like rumors about a nationwide quarantine. With how people are panicking, many people are ready to accept and spread rumors like this, which can confuse public responses to the ongoing pandemic. Whatever you do, do not use social media like Facebook or Snapchat as a source for news. If you receive any information via social media, remain skeptical until seeing a reliable source.
Other Valuable Sources
For more specific information about closures and changes happening near you, you should consult local organizations. You can call your town hall or town clerk's office for much of the info you might need. You might also call your local police department—you should not contact the police via 911 for non-emergency situations. This can affect their responsiveness to ongoing medical emergencies. Your local police department will have a separate line for normal use. You should also check any state and local news stations, as well as any published statements or press releases from your local government.