Fact check: Fake list of Pennsylvania 'COVID-19 winter activity restrictions' goes viral

Ella Lee

The claim: Pennsylvania's Department of Health released 'COVID-19 winter activity restrictions'

Experts have warned that this winter will likely yield the worst months the U.S. has seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. But a post on social media claims one state's health department is taking precautions too far. 

An infographic shared on Facebook lays out a number of supposed "winter activity" restrictions intended to quash the spread of COVID-19. The graphic, credited to Pennsylvania's Department of Health, says that there will be "no throwing snowballs or making snowmen without wearing gloves or proper PPE" and that neighbors "should not offer to shovel driveways for the elderly or those physically unable."

It also lists a number of less controversial suggestions, like wearing a mask when leaving the house and not congregating — or sledding — with large groups. 

"The PA hitler is at it again," the person who shared the infographic to Facebook wrote in its caption. The social media user did not respond to USA TODAY's request for comment.

More:A superintendent's snow day message is winning the internet for giving kids a break amid a year of 'endless loss'

Pennsylvania health department did not make infographic

Maggi Mumma, deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told USA TODAY in an email that the graphic was not developed by the state.

She linked to a tweet by the department's official Twitter account, which states the department has not issued winter activity restrictions.

The tweet includes an infographic that was made by the department, suggesting Pennsylvanians stay inside as much as possible and know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite. It makes no mention of COVID-19. 

"We encourage everyone to take steps to keep themselves + their families safe during winter storm #Gail, like dressing warmly + doing outdoor activities safely," the tweet reads.

Winter Storm Gail pummeled the East Coast this week, with parts of Pennsylvania and New York receiving dozens of inches of snow.

It's unclear where the infographic originated, though the earliest public post of the graphic was made Wednesday morning. The person who posted it did not respond to USA TODAY's request for comment, though that user wrote in a comment that the image was taken from a Pennsylvania Facebook group. 

More:Snowy scenes as storm arrives in Pennsylvania

The state did tighten its COVID-19 restrictions Dec. 12, prohibiting indoor dining, outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people and all in-person entertainment, ABC 7 News reported. Those restrictions will last until Jan. 4. 

Our rating: False

We rate the claim that the Pennsylvania Department of Health released "COVID-19 winter activity restrictions" as FALSE because it was not supported by our research. A spokesperson for the department said no winter activity restrictions related to the coronavirus were released, though winter guidelines related to the cold were. 

Our fact-check sources:

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