Fact Check

Is This 'Barack + Hussein + Obama = COVID-19' Protest Sign Real?

The math in this image isn't the only thing that's off.

Published April 27, 2020

A photograph shows a person holding a protest sign claiming that the number of characters in "Barack Hussein Obama" add up to the "19" in COVID-19.

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In April 2020, the above-displayed image of a person holding a protest sign started to circulate on social media. The sign appeared to show how the words "Barack Hussein Obama" contained 19 letters and that the disease at the center of the ongoing pandemic, COVID-19, also contained that number.

This is not a genuine photograph. Furthermore, when you add up the number of letters in "Barack Hussein Obama" (6 + 7 + 5), you get 18, not 19.

This manipulated image was created from a genuine photograph of a protester at a demonstration in Huntington Beach, California, which took place in spite of the state's shelter-in-place orders. The original photograph was taken by Jeff Gritchen of the Orange Country Register on April 17, 2020, and showed a protester holding a sign bearing the words "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death."

Here's a look at the real photograph (left) and the doctored image (right):

The original photograph can be viewed here, where it is accompanied by the following caption:

Sarah Mason, from Covina, joins a crowd of people gathered at the corner of Main Street and Walnut Avenue in Huntington Beach, CA, to protest coronavirus (COVID-19) closures on Friday, April 17, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

This isn't the first time that we've encountered a rumor concerning the name of the virus at the center of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For instance, COVID-19 does NOT stand for "Chinese-Originated Viral Infectious Disease."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains how COVID-19 got its name in this passage, which appears on the CDC website:

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice for naming of new human infectious diseases.


Emery, Sean; Percy, Nathaniel; Rasmussen, Emily.   "Scores Gather in Huntington Beach to Protest Coronavirus Stay-At-Home Orders."     OC Register.   17 April 2020.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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