No, U.S. emergency broadcast test will not trigger a 'zombie apocalypse'

By: Vivek J
October 9 2023

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No, U.S. emergency broadcast test will not trigger a 'zombie apocalypse'

Screenshot of the social media post claiming 5G will be used to trigger deadly viruses and turn 'humans into zombies." (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

FEMA and FCC conducted the nationwide emergency test alert seamlessly on October 4. Claims linking it to a 'zombie apocalypse' are conspiratorial.

Claim ID 150bc9ad

What is the claim?

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) conducted an emergency test alert on October 4. Several narratives linking the test to conspiracy theories surfaced on social media platforms as the test date neared. One such post on Facebook claimed that this test uses 5G technology and would release some "deadly viruses" like the Marburg and Ebola viruses that would eventually "turn humans into zombies." The post also accompanied a couple of screenshots of other similar claims to justify its assertions. The archive of this post can be found here

Similar posts also asked people to turn off their cellphones on October 4, as it would activate viruses in vaccinated people using 5G. Archives of such posts and videos can be found here and here

Screenshots of posts claiming that FEMA’s emergency test would activate "viruses." (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

What is this test conducted by FEMA and FCC? 

On August 3, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a notice that they would "conduct nationwide tests of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)." One test was conducted on October 4, "with a back-up test date of October 11, 2023."

Screenshot of the announcement made by FEMA on October 3, a day before the scheduled EAS/WEA test. (Source: Screenshot/

According to FEMA's website, it conducted a national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) on October 4. This test was "FEMA's national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency and life-saving information to the public through mobile phones using Wireless Emergency Alerts, to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System, and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio," the agency said.

In a page dedicated to the IPAWS national test 2023 on its website, FEMA also shared a video ahead of the trial, in which FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said that this test was being conducted in coordination with the FCC and that the wireless test was meant to alert people in times of emergency and save lives. She also noted, "Wireless service providers who participate in this WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) are required to deliver the test message, which will be accompanied by a unique tone and vibration." She also recommended people to watch out for such alerts as they could save lives. 

In one of their press releases dated October 3, FEMA noted that this was the third such test and the second test for all the WEA-compatible devices. Similarly, the FCC's website notes that since its inception in 2012, WEA has been used "84,000 times to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations – all through alerts on compatible cell phones and other mobile devices."

Screenshots of the WEA message displayed on devices on October 4. (Source: Screenshot/

While conspiracy theorists have linked this emergency test alert with unsubstantiated claims about FEMA trying to activate viruses among the vaccinated, such alerts have been rolled out seamlessly in other countries in the past without any of the aforementioned consequences. Claims about a virus spread through the alert have also been shared on free-speech platforms like Rumble, mostly by right-wing influencers. No clinical evidence or studies show that such emergency test alerts would be dangerous to human health. 

When a similar emergency alert test was conducted in the U.K. in April 2023, claims of pathogens in vaccines getting activated were shared on social media. You can read our fact-check debunking the same here

On October 4, FEMA published a press release upon completing the Wireless Emergency Alerts test. The release noted that it successfully conducted the test and that the "final determination of population reach for the EAS test will come from data collected by the EAS Test Reporting System. Analysis will be done by FEMA and the FCC, and results could take approximately four months."

The verdict 

FEMA and FCC have routinely conducted such Wireless Emergency Alerts tests. The one conducted on October 4 was a second national test for all WES-compatible devices. There is no basis for claims of people turning into zombies or 5G technology being used to activate viruses in the vaccinated. These claims originate from known conspiracy theories that have been previously debunked. 

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