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Debunking Common Myths About COVID-19

Debunking Common Myths About COVID-19

COVID-19 is a relatively new virus, which means we’re all learning about it in real-time as doctors and scientists strive to understand the illness and how to treat and prevent it. Unfortunately, science is often a bumpy road, filled with twists and turns — causing information to pop up and change so quickly that it can be hard to keep up. As a result, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and sometimes it’s hard to sort out the facts from the myths.

Where to Find Up-to-Date, Accurate Information About COVID-19

Now more than ever, it’s important to stay informed so that you can best care for yourself and others. The internet offers a wealth of information. Unfortunately, it also offers just as much misinformation. So, how do you know the difference?

For trustworthy COVID-19 information and updates, talk to your doctor and visit the following websites:

Common COVID-19 Myths Explained

Below are some of the misconceptions about COVID-19 that are commonly heard or found online. We’ve provided fact-based explanations about each myth that describe what scientists currently understand about the virus.

Claim: What’s all the hype about? COVID is just like the flu or pneumonia.

Fact: COVID-19 and the flu are spread in similar ways and can have similar symptoms. However, there are also many differences, including:

  • Flu has approved vaccines and medications for treatment, while COVID is a new virus with no proven treatment or preventive vaccine. Medical professionals are well-versed in treating the flu, but COVID is a completely new virus that they have to figure out step-by-step as they go.
  • Symptoms take longer to appear with COVID (typically five days after contracting the virus), which means people have more time to spread it before even knowing they’re sick. People with COVID seem to remain contagious longer than those with the flu.
  • COVID has been noted to spread quicker and to infect more people than the flu, causing massive outbreaks.
  • Both flu and COVID can cause other serious complications, such as pneumonia. However, in some cases COVID-19 has also been noted to cause blood clots in the lungs, heart, brain and legs. It may also cause multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) — a condition that causes inflammation in the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.

Claim: Wearing a mask will cause me to breathe in too little oxygen or too much carbon dioxide.

Fact: Although wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time can feel uncomfortable, it’s been proven that properly fitting masks do NOT deprive you of oxygen or create excess carbon dioxide.

Try different types of masks until you find one that’s best for you. A properly fitting mask will:

  • Be secured to you with ties or ear loops
  • Cover your mouth and nose
  • Fit snugly so that it doesn’t have too much gapping or need to be readjusted, but also is not uncomfortably tight

However, the CDC states, “Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”

Claim: I should wear my mask at the gym or during my morning jog.

Fact: The World Health Organization (WHO) says that masks should NOT be worn during exercise because sweat can make your mask wet, which can make it hard to breathe and can also promote the growth of microorganisms. The best way to stay safe during exercise is to maintain physical distance from others and to avoid working out in crowded, enclosed spaces.

Claim: I can just keep my mask in my car or purse to slip on when I go out.

Fact: It’s a great idea to keep an extra mask in a sealed container in your car or purse, but not if you’re reusing the same mask without cleaning it. Reusable masks should be cleaned daily using soap and hot water. They should also be completely dry before wearing. Disposable masks should be thrown away each day, or sooner if they become wet.

Claim: I can take hydroxychloroquine to prevent or cure COVID-19.

Fact: There’s currently no licensed medication to prevent or cure COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine (and other drugs) can cause serious side effects, illness and even death. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider right away and learn about the CDC guidelines.

Claim: I should wash my food or hands with bleach or other sanitizers to kill the germs.

Fact: Bleach and other sanitizers, such as methane and ethanol, are safe for sanitizing surfaces but are extremely dangerous on or in your body. Never use these products to clean your food or hands, and NEVER ingest any amount of them. They will not kill the germs in/on your body, but they will harm your skin, eyes and internal organs.

Claim: I can’t catch COVID-19 during the summer.

Fact: COVID-19 outbreaks are occurring all over the world — regardless of season, temperature or climate. The best way to reduce your chances of contracting the illness is by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, consistently washing your hands and not touching your face.

Claim: I can get COVID-19 from a mosquito bite.

Fact: Fortunately, this is not true. COVID is a respiratory illness that spreads mostly by droplets or aerosol coming from an infected person’s mouth or nose while they talk, cough or sneeze. However, mosquitos can transmit other serious diseases, so using bug repellant is still recommended.

Claim: I got the pneumonia vaccine, so I’m safe from COVID.

Fact: Be sure to get your regular vaccines, including flu and pneumonia, to help protect you from those respiratory illnesses. However, it’s important to understand that COVID is an entirely different type of disease that will require its own specific vaccine.

Claim: Children and younger adults are safe from COVID.

Fact: Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease seem to have a higher risk for becoming severely ill with the virus. But people of all ages can contract it and everyone — regardless of age and prior health — has the possibility for complications. That’s why it’s imperative that everyone does what they can to limit the possibility of contracting and spreading this disease. Wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, not attending large gatherings and good hand hygiene are all effective methods.

Claim: Pets cannot get or spread COVID.

Fact: There have been a small number of pets worldwide who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. In most cases, these pets had been exposed to a human who had also tested positive. While it appears that in rare instances humans may spread COVID to animals, the chances of animals spreading the virus to people are currently thought to be very low. Learn how to protect your pet from COVID-19.

Claim: I can get COVID from mail, packages and groceries.

Fact: COVID-19 is a new virus that we learn more about each day. It’s thought to be spread mostly through respiratory droplets. So, it’s much more likely to spread from person to person than by surfaces. However, there is still a small chance of contracting the virus if you touch an infected surface and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes. Even though catching COVID from a surface is less likely, it’s best to play it safe and wash your hands immediately after handling the items.