Myth Busters- COVID 19 Edition

By: Summer ford

Myths and False Information about COVID-19

By Summer Ford

  1. You won’t be infected if you wear a mask

Most face masks intended for general use are extremely thin and not tight enough on the face. Wearing these types of masks to go out in public will likely not stop the virus. In fact, they can actually put a person more at risk by giving them a false sense of security, leading them to wash their hands less and touch their face more when fidgeting with the mask. Furthermore, when the general public panic buys masks, it can lead to shortages for people who actually need them, such as doctors and nurses. Currently, the only people recommended to wear masks other than health care professionals are those who have the virus, or those who are caring for someone who does. 

  1. You don’t have to worry about touching things if you wear gloves

If you use gloves, it is important to remember that they can transmit the virus just as well as bare skin. Touching surfaces with gloves and then touching something else may protect you, but it can still spread the virus to others. Recent CDC tests have found active traces of COVID-19 on hard surfaces after 17 days, so touching something you will later come into contact with defeats the purpose of the gloves. It is also necessary to think about how often you are changing the gloves, how tightly they fit, and if you are washing your hands before and after wearing them. In short, there is no substitute for handwashing, which should be done for at least 20 seconds with soap.

  1. COVID-19 isn’t any worse than the flu

Many people have compared the novel coronavirus to the influenza virus to justify why they don’t want to practice safe social distancing. As respiratory illnesses, they do have many similarities, but the one of the most important things to consider is that the death rate in the U.S. for the flu is 0.1% and estimated to be between 1-3% for COVID-19. Additionally, each person infected with the virus will infect more people than those with the flu. About 1-2% of flu cases are considered “severe”, compared to 20% of those with COVID-19, and need to be hospitalized for twice as long as flu patients. Considering there are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19, please do your part by following CDC guidelines and staying home. 

  1. Warm weather will prevent transmission of the virus

There is not currently enough data to make any definite claims or say for sure if COVID-19 will continue to thrive in warm weather. However, it is essential to note that other places where the virus is prominent, such as Singapore and Southern China, are currently experiencing the warmer temperatures some have predicted will stop the virus. There may be some seasonal variability as it is probable that the number of cases will somewhat decline, but it is unlikely that COVID-19 will die out in the way many people have been predicting. 

  1. COVID-19 will mutate to become worse or render a vaccine useless

Like all viruses, the novel coronavirus will undergo mutations throughout its spread. Most genome mutations are incredibly small, and will most likely not have a major impact on the virus. In order to change factors like severity or infection rate several genes would have to mutate at once. Most likely, any mutations will not affect a vaccine creation or significantly change the virus in a short period of time. 

  1. Only elderly people and immunocompromised people are in danger

It is true that older adults have seen the highest death rates, with data showing the majority of deaths in people over the age of 60. However, new data from the CDC shows that between 14-21% of adults aged 20-44 who contract COVID-19 will have symptoms severe enough to be hospitalized. Even those with no pre-existing health conditions can be severely impacted or killed. Beaches and schools have been shut down in Florida for a reason. This virus is affecting everyone, and there is no excuse for refusing to follow CDC and government regulations. 

On a slightly lighter note, here are a dozen of the strangest fake facts I have found floating around the internet.

  1. Taking vitamin C tablets or steroids will fight off COVID-19
  2. Drinking water washes the virus into the stomach where it is killed by stomach acid
  3. Hot air from hand or hair dryers and hot baths can kill the virus
  4. Taking zinc or silver supplements will kill the virus
  5. You should drink or gargle bleach, and rinse your nose with saline
  6. COVID-19 was created in a lab 
  7. Eating in a Chinese restaurant or ordering products from China will give you the virus
  8. Mosquitoes can transmit the virus
  9. You should eat garlic or herbs to protect yourself
  10. Anyone who can hold their breath for 10 seconds doesn’t have it
  11. 5G wireless networks caused COVID-19
  12. Spraying alcohol or bleach on your body will save you 

If you would like further information, or want to keep track of the spread, here are some helpful and trusted resources I have compiled.

Overview of COVID-19 and official information

Tracking cases in Florida

Maps, data, and graphs for the U.S.

Maps, data, and graphs for worldwide cases

Simple global data, updated every minute (created by a 17 year old!)

U.S. Government responses

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