UPDATE: This story has been updated with new guidance from the CDC regarding face masks.
INDIANAPOLIS — As the coronavirus continues to spread, misinformation and false conclusions are spreading along with it.
Here is a look at some common questions people have about the illness that, as of April 1, has killed more than 44,000 people around the world.
Will the coronavirus go away in summer when the weather gets warmer? The World Health Organization reports COVID-19 can be transmitted in hot and humid climates. Cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the late summer and fall months in the southern hemisphere. For example, in Brazil, more than 200 people have died and around 5,800 have been sickened by the virus, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 map. Likewise, cold weather and snow cannot kill the coronavirus. Virus spread is controlled by human behavior, and as we wait for a vaccine, the only way we can lessen the coronavirus' impact is by taking preventative steps, such as social distancing, only making essential trips into public, washing our hands and not touching our faces.
Should I wear a face mask? The Centers for Disease Control previously did not recommend that healthy people wear masks, but their guidance changed this week. The CDC now says people should wear cloth face coverings in public where it can be difficult to maintain other social distancing measures, such as at grocery stores and pharmacies. However, the CDC said professional, tight-fitting respirators, such as N-95 masks, should be reserved for health care workers to use while they care for infected patients. It is important that people do not stock up and hoard professional masks considering the nationwide shortage hospitals currently face.
Can I catch COVID-19 when I gather my mail? There is no evidence that people can catch the coronvirus via their mail. Because of the poor survivability of COVID-19 on surfaces, there is a very low risk of the virus spreading through food products or packaging shipped over a period of days, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Are only the elderly susceptible to COVID-19? People of all ages can contract the coronavirus, and while older people and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk of severe complications, young and healthy people have been reported to become seriously ill. Because of that, the WHO recommends that everybody be vigilant and do what is necessary to prevent the coronavirus' spread.
Can mosquitos transmit the coronavirus? Unlike malaria and other diseases, mosquitoes are not responsible for transmitting the coronavirus, according to the WHO.
Do flu or pneumona vaccines protect against the coronavirus? Are there any antibiotics or medications that work? No and no. The coronavirus is completely new, and it is going to take time for scientists to develop a vaccine. Additionally, antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses, and there are no medications that are recommended to treat or prevent the coronavirus. The WHO also said there is no evidence to support the suggestion made last month by France's health minister Olivier Véran that ibuprofen might worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.
For more information about what is true and false about the coronavirus, view these resources:
- CDC: Frequently asked questions
- CDC: Stop the spread of rumors
- World Health Organization: Coronavirus myth busters
- Harvard University Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics: Will COVID-19 go away on its own in warmer weather
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