There are a lot of myths going around about COVID-19. Infection Prevention Specialist, Dr. Rossana Rosa, sets the record straight by debunking five coronavirus myths to help keep you and your family informed and healthy.
MYTH: Wearing a cloth face mask replaces the need to physical distance in public
“The first and most important thing to remember is cloth face masks are not a substitute for physical distancing,” Dr. Rosa says. “Staying at least six feet apart from others while in public is still the most important tool to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Rosa says studies show patients infected with coronavirus and not exhibiting symptoms, or who have very few symptoms, can still spread the virus through talking, coughing or sneezing, especially in close proximity to other people. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked all people, except kids under the age of two, to wear face masks in public places – like the pharmacy and the grocery store.
“When wearing cloth face masks in public, still avoid touching your face or eyes. Remember, you can still catch the virus doing those things,” Dr. Rosa says.
When wearing cloth face masks, it needs to fit snug but comfortably against the side of your face. It should be secured with ties or ear loops and must cover both your mouth and your nose. The CDC says you should take off the face mask cautiously and wash your hands immediately after. It’s also best to wash your face mask in the washing machine at the end of each day. If you need to make a mask, you can find both sewing and non-sew machine options here.
MYTH: COVID-19 is splitting into different strains of the virus
“All viruses mutate or change a little bit, so that means certain components of the virus may change when they go from one person to another. Researchers have been tracking COVID-19 and detected a few changes as the virus has spread around the world. Overall, the number of changes in the virus are relatively small, so we could say the virus is more or less stable,” Dr. Rosa says.
The slow and mild nature of the mutations is actually good news for the vaccine. Vaccines, in general, are often produced off an early version of the virus.
MYTH: The weather will stop the spread of COVID-19
“What we do know from the 1918 pandemic, is that it did go away for some time when the weather was warmer, but there was enough circulating in the community that once it got cold again, cases spiked,” Dr. Rosa says.
Although viruses degrade faster in heat and humid weather, the main form of transmission is through respiratory droplets that land on your face when you are close to other people. Ultimately, our behavior – including physical distancing, handwashing and covering coughs and sneezing is currently the only sure way we’ll keep the spread of the virus low.
MYTH: If you get coronavirus, you will be immune to it
This is one question that’s on a lot of people’s minds. People want to know if they get the virus, will they be immune to it, or will they get it again?
“The answer is we don’t know just yet. Based on what we do know about other similar viruses like the coronavirus, after you get infected, you build immunity. However, we don’t know how long that immunity will last,” Dr. Rosa says.
MYTH: There is a treatment to prevent COVID-19
“At this time, there are no proven way to prevent COVID-19. Only a vaccine would be able to prevent the virus and that’s still months from being finalized. A recent study showed taking hydroxychloroquine following a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 doesn’t prevent from developing an infection. The best prevention is masking, handwashing and physical distancing,” Dr. Rosa says.
Work continues to identify safe treatments for COVID-19. Studies show an antiviral called remdesivir does seem to shorten the length of a COVID-19 infection and seems to help improve symptoms. There’s also new, promising results starting to come out about a steroid called dexamethasone. The results show it helps reduce death in some patients who are seriously ill with the virus. Plasma from people who’ve recuperated is also being used to help those who are fighting COVID-19. Antibiotics aren’t an adequate tool, because antibiotics treat bacterial infections, not viral infections – like COVID-19.
For more information on COVID-19, please check out our coronavirus resources page.