As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 with updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other leading public health institutes, more information is emerging that can guide us in navigating this public health crisis. But misinformation is also out there.
13 Coronavirus Myths, and the Truth About Each
We recently published this coronavirus myth versus fact
Myth: Hot, humid and cold weather will kill off coronavirus.
Fact: Hot, humid and cold weather, and even the opposite — snow — won’t kill off the virus.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about this strain of coronavirus because it’s new. But according to the WHO, coronavirus isn’t seasonal and can be transmitted in all kinds of weather.
No matter where you live, it’s important to protect yourself during a pandemic like COVID-19. If you do nothing else, focus on these two simple things to slow or prevent the spread of coronavirus: Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and don’t touch your face.
Myth: Wearing rubber gloves in public will protect me from catching coronavirus.
Fact: Wearing rubber gloves can’t completely protect you from coronavirus.
When you’re wearing rubber gloves, you can still pick up the virus from touching contaminated surfaces. Just like with your bare hands, if you touch your nose, mouth or eyes when wearing rubber gloves, the virus can make its way into your body.
Myth: Kids can’t catch coronavirus.
Fact: Like adults, kids can get it, too.
Although adults make up most of the cases of coronavirus, infants and children have become sick from it, according to the CDC. In children and teens, symptoms tend to be milder, such as fever, runny nose and coughing.
Some children and teens have also experienced vomiting and diarrhea. Adults with underlying medical conditions — like lung disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer — are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. The CDC notes that people of any age (not just adults) who have serious health conditions might be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Myth: It’s safe to go out in public during the pandemic as long as I wear a face mask.
Fact: A face mask won’t completely protect you from coronavirus.
The CDC recommends that healthy people wear face masks when they go out in public. They also recommend taking these steps to reduce your chances of getting sick:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid handshakes, and do the elbow bump or wave as a greeting
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- If you have to leave your home, avoid touching public surfaces with your bare hands (note—sometimes there is not choice, like door handles)
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing or using the bathroom. Be sure to scrub your finger nail beds and webs of your fingers.
Overall, staying home is your safest bet to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Myth: If someone in my house gets coronavirus, I should wash their clothes separately.
Fact: It’s safe to wash their dirty laundry with everyone else’s clothes.
Doing a separate wash is an extra step you don’t have to take. Laundering guidelines from the CDC indicate that it’s safe to wash the dirty laundry of an ill person with everyone else’s clothes.
But to kill coronavirus, it’s important to wash clothes in the warmest water possible and to dry everything completely. Another tip: When gathering up laundry, avoid shaking a sick person’s laundry to reduce the chances coronavirus will be spread through the air.
Also, be sure to include hampers and laundry baskets in your cleaning routine. Clean and disinfect them just like you would any hard surface to reduce germ spread.
Myth: If I know my friends don’t have coronavirus, it’s safe to hang out with them.
Fact: It may not be safe to spend time with your friends because their symptoms may not have surfaced yet.
Coronavirus symptoms don’t show up immediately. According to the CDC, it can take up to 14 days after being exposed to the virus for symptoms to appear. Even if they seem healthy, your friends may have come into contact with someone who is sick, and therefore be carrying the virus unknowingly. Your friends could have coronavirus but not yet be showing symptoms of COVID-19.
To stay safe from coronavirus and still have fun with your friends, you can connect with them in other ways, like through text, video chats and social media rather than in groups outside.
Myth: I don’t have heart disease, lung disease or diabetes and I’m younger than 65, so I’m not at a high risk for coronavirus complications.
Fact: The list of conditions that can put you at increased risk for serious complications of coronavirus is longer than these conditions.
The CDC recently offered more information on who is most at risk of severe illness from coronavirus. According to the CDC, you’re at high risk for coronavirus complications if you have:
- A neurologic condition that can impair your ability to cough
- A weakened immune system
- Chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Ever had chemotherapy or radiation
- Kidney failure
- Lack of a spleen or having a spleen that’s not functioning correctly
- Obesity (a body mass index of 40 or greater)
- Prolonged use of corticosteroids like prednisone
- Sickle cell anemia
Pregnancy and living in a nursing home or long-term care facility can increase your risk for coronavirus complications, too. You may also be at risk for complications if you have HIV.
If you’re at high risk for coronavirus complications, you’ll want to practice social distancing and take other precautions
Myth: Mosquitos can spread coronavirus.
Fact: Mosquito bites won’t infect you with coronavirus.
Coronavirus spread from person to person through droplets in the air when an infected person in close contact coughs or sneezes or through saliva and nasal discharge. Mosquito bites aren’t a conduit for coronavirus.
Myth: Hand dryers can kill off coronavirus.
Fact: Hand dryers won’t get the job done.
Hand dryers can’t kill coronavirus, the WHO says. To protect yourself from coronavirus, focus on washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Once you have clean hands, go ahead and use a warm hand dryer or dry them with a paper towel and toss it in a lined trash can. Hand-washing is key.
Myth: I don’t have a fever, so I don’t have coronavirus.
Fact: It’s possible to have the virus without having a fever.
A fever is one of the three most common symptoms of coronavirus, in addition to cough and difficulty breathing. But it can take two to 10 days for a fever to develop after being infected with the virus. During that incubation period, even if you don’t have a fever, you could infect others.
Myth: Coronavirus can be spread in pools and hot tubs.
Fact: Coronavirus can’t live in pools and hot tubs that are properly maintained.
The CDC says there’s no evidence that coronavirus can spread to people who use pools or hot tubs that are properly disinfected and maintained. Chlorine should inactivate coronavirus.
Myth: Pets can spread coronavirus.
Fact: There’s no reason to believe pets can get coronavirus or spread the infection.
During an outbreak of coronavirus, you can take care of your furry family members like you normally would, including washing your hands after handling them. But if you get sick, the CDC recommends playing it safe by not handling pets and keeping your distance, just like you would with people.
Myth: Anything over 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (F) is a fever.
Fact: A fever is an internal body temperature of 100.4 degrees F (38.0 degrees F) or greater.
You may have grown up learning that anything over 98.6 degrees F is a high temperature. But the CDC defines a fever as an internal body temperature of 100.4 degrees F or greater, measured with an oral thermometer. Fever can be a sign of coronavirus, especially if it has been lingering for at least 24 hours, or other illnesses.
Stay Current on Coronavirus Facts
For the latest updates on coronavirus and what to do if you or a loved one feels sick, we’re here for you. For more information and the latest updates, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.