FACT CHECK: Viral Image Claims To Show California Department Of Social Services Letter About Coronavirus Testing

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An Instagram post shows a letter, purportedly from the California Department of Social Services, that mandates coronavirus testing for participants of state assistance programs and warns that children may be removed from the household if someone tests positive.


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A post shared by Dr. Umar Johnson, Psy.D., CSP (@drumarjohnson) on

Verdict: False

The California Department of Social Services and other agencies debunked the fabricated letter.

Fact Check:

The letter, which bears the California Department of Social Services letterhead and the California Health and Human Services secretary’s signature, started circulating widely on social media over the weekend.

Participants “in state assistance benefits, including cash aid, Cal Fresh and MediCal,” must get COVID-19 testing for all members of the household by June 1 or face “temporary suspension of your benefits beginning July 1,” according to the letter. It also claims that, if someone tests positive, the “Humans Services Agency of Merced County may deem it necessary to remove all children [under the age of 18] from your household who have tested negative.”

The California Department of Social Services debunked the letter on its website, saying, “The letter, its contents, and the website are fake.” (RELATED: Viral Image Claims Kentucky Teachers Will Conduct ‘Bedroom Inspections’ For Students)

“State departments and county human services departments NEVER will ask about your health status in connection to an application for benefits,” the department said on its website. “Similarly, children must be subject to abuse or neglect to enter foster care. Children cannot be put into foster care just because a parent may be ill.”

Merced County and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office have also issued warnings about the fake letter on Facebook.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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