A picture of a microscopic look at the novel coronavirus.
What the novel coronavirus looks like under a microscope. Photo via Creative Commons

MYTH: 

You need a mask to protect you from the new coronavirus. 

FACT:  

Masks are most effective for helping to contain droplets from a sick person.  

If you are healthy, a mask would only strongly benefit you if you are interacting with someone who is suspected to have the coronavirus. A mask does not make a significant protective difference when simply walking around. Masks are ONLY effective when combined with frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer. (Source: World Health Organization and The Guardian) 

 

MYTH: 

This is just like the flu! No big deal. 

FACT:  

The new coronavirus is MUCH WORSE than the seasonal flu. It is more contagious and some estimates suggest it is over 10 times more deadly. Unlike the flu, there is not yet a vaccine for the coronavirus. Because it is a new virus, it has the potential to overwhelm the health care system. (Source: Vox Media) 

 

MYTH: 

Only Asian or Chinese people can get or die from the virus. It is dangerous to interact with Asian or Chinese people. 

FACT:  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) started in Wuhan, China. That’s just geography. Every single person is at risk of being infected. While everyone should be practicing social distancing and staying 6 feet away from others, there is NO REASON to avoid people with Chinese ancestry or any other ancestry. (Source: DC Government) 

 

MYTH:  

The virus can’t be transmitted in really hot weather or really cold weather.  

FACT:  

The coronavirus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, regardless of climate. Hot weather or cool weather doesn’t make a difference, neither do hot baths or hand dryers. (Source: World Health Organization) 

 

MYTH: 

If you can comfortably hold your breath for more than 10 seconds, you’re probably not infected. 

FACT: 

While shortness of breath is one of the main symptoms, you cannot self-diagnose by holding your breath. This misinformation was popularized by a viral Facebook post posing as material from Stanford University and further shared by Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera. It also appeared on a “test” distributed by a local property management company. Clinicians are still struggling to understand the virus and it is not helpful to try to test yourself. (Source: Mother Jones) 


Lilah Burke is a volunteer with Street Sense Media.