Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

A recent Facebook post used a video featuring former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, seen here in a file photo from December 2001,  to claim the COVID-19 pandemic was planned. We rate the claim Pants on Fire! (AP) A recent Facebook post used a video featuring former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, seen here in a file photo from December 2001,  to claim the COVID-19 pandemic was planned. We rate the claim Pants on Fire! (AP)

A recent Facebook post used a video featuring former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, seen here in a file photo from December 2001, to claim the COVID-19 pandemic was planned. We rate the claim Pants on Fire! (AP)

Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles September 16, 2021

No, COVID wasn’t planned by FEMA to kill thousands and open concentration camps

If Your Time is short

  • The video is from a 2010 truTV episode of “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura” that features Alex Jones, the InfoWars owner known for promoting false right-wing conspiracy theories.

  • The containers shown in the episode are burial vaults used to put caskets in when they’re placed in the ground. This protects the casket and keeps the ground from caving in.

  • There is no evidence linking the plastic burial vaults to COVID-19, and the conspiracy suggested in the video itself by Ventura and Jones is baseless.

A clip from a 2010 episode of the truTV series "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" has resurfaced on social media, and it’s being used to claim that COVID-19 was planned by the government.

The clip, which was posted to TikTok and reshared on Facebook Sept. 9, shows former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in Madison, Ga., hiding behind trees next to a plot of land filled with what they called hundreds of thousands of "plastic coffins."

 

While looking over the scene, the two men discussed claims that the government was holding these coffins in preparation for a biological pandemic, which would be used to kill thousands of "dissidents" and send people into concentration camps owned and operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

"Officially, they’re plastic grave liners, seven feet long, three feet deep, with lids," Ventura is heard narrating as the camera pans to stacks of the black containers. "The company that makes them says they’re just being stored for people’s pre-needs. Well, who in the hell has a pre-need for this many coffins — unless they’re planning a massacre?" 

The episode first aired in November 2010, seven years after Ventura left office. But the new post of the video on Facebook claims that it shows "proof" that "COVID was planned."  The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The containers were being stored in Madison, but these claims surrounding them are false. And while conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic having been "planned" have raged for more than a year, there is no evidence that this is the case. 

The containers in the video are called burial vaults, or grave liners, and they’re made by a company called Vantage Product Corp. The vaults are meant to protect interred caskets. They also keep the ground from caving in at burial, said the company’s vice president, Lisa Barlow. 

"The majority of cemeteries across the United States require the use of a burial vault when a body is interred," Barlow said. 

This isn’t the first time this claim about the caskets being for nefarious purposes has arisen. In 2008, Madison-based newspaper the Morgan County Citizen, debunked the claim and stated that Vantage leased the land and used it to store burial vaults. 

Vantage’s then-Vice President of Operations Michael Lacy said that the vaults are stored for people who pre-arrange for their funerals. It’s common practice for people to make their funeral arrangements before death, including selecting a casket and burial vault.

Featured Fact-check

"Once this selection has been made, the local funeral home that has made the arrangements can purchase the burial vault product from Vantage Products and we will store it for them until that person dies," Barlow said.

She also noted that there were 50,000 vaults stored on the property — far fewer than the hundreds of thousands that Jones had described in the video. 

Ventura and Jones, who owns InfoWars, a site known to promote right-wing conspiracy theories, also claimed that Vantage used to be owned by a company that had ties to Halliburton, a Houston-based oil and energy company once led by former Vice President Dick Cheney that held lucrative government contracts during the Iraq War. Ventura and Jones claimed a Halliburton subsidiary was paid $385 million to partner with FEMA to build concentration camps. 

A FEMA spokesperson told PolitiFact that the information in the video is "unequivocally false," and that they’ve never contracted with Halliburton to build any type of camp.

"FEMA does not and has not operated concentration camp centers in response to COVID-19 or any other disasters. FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," the spokesperson said. 

Halliburton did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment. PolitiFact investigated similar rumors about FEMA-created COVID-19 camps in 2020, and found them to be baseless.

Our ruling

A video shared on Facebook claims to show proof that COVID-19 was planned. It features a 2010 clip of Ventura and Jones discussing a Madison, Ga., plot of land filled with "plastic coffins," which they said were being stored by the government as part of a plan to kill thousands in a biological pandemic and open FEMA concentration camps. 

The containers are burial vaults used to put caskets in when they’re interred in the ground. They are being stored for people who made burial arrangements before death. And there is no evidence they are linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FEMA has not operated concentration camp centers in response to COVID-19 or any other disaster.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Facebook post, Sept. 9, 2021

Politifact, Latest fact checks of Alex Jones, accessed Sept. 15, 2021

PolitiFact, Fact-checking ‘Plandemic’: A documentary full of false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, May 7, 2020

PolitiFact, Lie of the Year: Coronavirus downplay and denial, Dec. 16, 2020

Poynter, FALSE: The pandemic was planned intentionally. The documentary called Plandemic has exposed a COVID-19 "criminal operation." Dec. 10, 2020

Reuters, Fact check: This article is not ‘ultimate proof’ that the COVID-19 pandemic is planned, July 24, 2020

Pew Research Center, A look at the Americans who believe there is some truth to the conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was planned, July 24, 2020

AP News, Viral thoughts: Why COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist, April 6, 2021

Vantage Products Corporation website, accessed Sept. 13, 2021

Email interview with Lisa Barlow, vice president of Vantage Products Corporation, Sept. 13, 2021

Morgan County Citizen, Conspiracy or simply storage? Theories surface around vaults stored in Madison, Aug. 11, 2008

Email interview with FEMA spokesperson, Sept. 14, 2021
PolitiFact, CDC and FEMA aren’t separating students and parents in Ohio because of COVID-19, Sept. 10, 2020

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Gabrielle Settles

No, COVID wasn’t planned by FEMA to kill thousands and open concentration camps

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up