JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Claims are circulating online that a newly printed American quarter with a picture of two Samoan fruit bats on it somehow connected to a government plot or government pre-knowledge of the coronavirus.
The News4JaxTrust Index team looked into the claim and found it is not true.
The quarter was put into circulation in February to honor the National Park of American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the Pacific. It features a mother fruit bat and her pup hanging upside down.
The 25¢ coin is part of the America the Beautiful quarters program that began in 2010. Every year since, the U.S. Treasury has minted different quarter designs depicting national parks and other national sites.
According to the U.S. Mint, the design is intended to promote awareness of the Samoan fruit bat’s threatened status due to habitat loss and commercial hunting.
The connection between the U.S. quarter and the coronavirus comes from the theory that COVID-19, which emerged from China, originated in bats and made the jump from bats to humans through an intermediate species. Researchers, however, are still unsure of how the virus was transmitted to humans.
Comments on social media indicate that some think the coincidence of the novel coronavirus' potential connection to bats and the design of the quarter might be more than that.
The Trust Index team did some research and found the quarter was first minted Feb. 13, 2020, but its design was debuted in August of 2019, four months before the first case of the novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China.
According to the National Park Service, the Samoan fruit bat is only found in the Samoan islands and on Fiji -- nowhere near the coronavirus’ origin in China.
And, again, the theory of the virus’ origin in bats remains unproven.
After reviewing the claims circulating online, the Trust Index Team determined the claims of government knowledge about the coronavirus based on the quarter's illustration is NOT TRUE.
The release of a quarter with a bat on it during a global pandemic seems to be just a case of coincidence and timing.
After review, we've found this information is Not True.