Truth or Fake

Is the U.S building Covid-19 quarantine camps like China?

A TikTok user implied that the U.S had built Covid-19 quarantine camps like in China. It's not true - as we found out.
A TikTok user implied that the U.S had built Covid-19 quarantine camps like in China. It's not true - as we found out. © FRANCE 24

In January this year, Chinese authorities rushed to build a huge quarantine camp in Hebei province for people infected with Covid-19. Photos of the camp were seen all over the world. In the U.S, some white buildings in Alabama drew the attention of TikTokkers who thought they looked like a quarantine camp. The Truth or Fake team decided to investigate - and here's what we found.

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The original video on TikTok uses two other videos to make its claims: first, a video of a quarantine camp in China, and second, an extract from another TikTok video of white portacabins in Huntsville, Alabama. Catherine Bennett explains how the Truth or Fake team found out what these buildings actually were.

How we fact-checked it

After geolocating the video, we were able to confirm that the video was taken in Huntsville, Alabama, and that the white buildings are situated along a railroad. 

We spoke to both a railroad museum in the town and to Norfolk Southern, the train company that operates along this stretch of track. They both assured us that the white buildings were for train workers and had nothing to do with Covid-19. 

The North Alabama Railroad Museum told us, “These are Norfolk Southern Railroad crew quarters cars. No Covid camp here. [...] They are part of a Maintenance Of Way (MOW) work train.”

Norfolk Southern explained, "The white cars shown in the images you provided are Norfolk Southern’s mobile railroad camp cars, which have been used only by Norfolk Southern personnel engaged in track maintenance and construction projects. Norfolk Southern’s camp cars are not used by individuals outside of the company, nor are they used for matters related to public health."

We found further images of the white portacabins in a video of Norfolk Southern's trains on an independent YouTube account

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You can find more of our debunking work here