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.
Furthermore, the mutations detected so far do not seem to impact the parts of the virus targeted by the vaccine.
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?
“Although there have been some cases of re-infection reported, evidence suggests that re-infections are rare and when they occur it is usually after three months from the first infection,” Dr. Rosa says.
MYTH: Once I get a COVID-19 vaccine, I can stop wearing a mask.
Even after receiving both vaccine doses, you’ll still have to wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance since you won’t be immune right away and there will also be many people who have not yet been vaccinated.
Also, experts are still collecting data and learning about this vaccine, including how long it protects you and to what level it protects you.
“The vaccine is very effective at preventing you from developing symptomatic disease (for example fever, cough, pneumonia) but it is not yet clear if the vaccines completely prevent the virus from getting into your body and cause infection without symptoms. It’s an important distinction. If the vaccine only prevents you from getting really sick, you can still catch the virus, carry it and give it to someone else, even if you don’t feel sick yourself” Dr. Rosa says.
For more information on COVID-19, please check out our coronavirus resources page.