Every day, I scroll through social media and see at LEAST five articles or news headlines about the coronavirus, many of which have all of the wrong facts. This is ultimately causing a media frenzy and has people freaking out thinking they're close to death if they go out in public.
With that being said, let's get it all straightened out. Here are six things you need to know about the coronavirus.
1. The coronavirus isn't new
People keep posting photos of their Lysol cans that say it protects against the coronavirus, which makes people think this is some kind of government conspiracy theory since we're only hearing about it within these past few months.
The coronavirus itself is NOT new. What's new is the strain, COVID-19, that originated in China. Influenza (aka the flu) has multiple strains, which is why when people are having flu-like symptoms, they're tested for flu A, B, or C and, just like the flu, coronavirus has different strains and it has existed (even in America) for years.
2. Coronavirus has similar flu-like symptoms
...But that doesn't mean just because you start coughing that you have it. Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, fever, lower respiratory tract symptoms, and body aches. If you have traveled outside of the United States to any known countries to have the outbreak (such as China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea) or have been in contact with someone who has a known case of COVID-19, seek medical care immediately to be tested. Testing is performed by the CDC or a CDC-qualified lab.
3. No matter how many face masks you buy, they cannot completely protect you from COVID-19
As there's now a shortage of masks and PPE equipment in the United States and other countries abroad, people are scrambling to figure out what to do next. The unfortunate fact here is that standard paper-thin surgical masks will not protect you from COVID-19 for a multitude of reasons — including that the masks don't often fit very well as everyone's facial shape and size are different. It might be too big on Sally but too small on Joe, see what I mean? Not to mention that they don't have any sort of filter and there is a risk that viruses can infect you anyway. Another reason is that when we breathe out, we're breathing moist air, which makes the mask moist, reducing its effectiveness.
4. There are more flu-related deaths annually than there have been for COVID-19
According to the CDC, there have been an estimated 32 – 45 million flu cases and 18,000 – 46,000 deaths since October 2019. According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been just over 3,000 deaths associated with COVID-19.
5. Infection control is SO important
You know how when you were little and your health classes would teach you to always wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs? Time to put that concept to work by WASHING YOUR HANDS REGULARLY. Wash them before and after meals, after you use the restroom, and ESPECIALLY if you're sick or come in contact with someone who is sick, EVEN if it's just a "common cold." Not to mention if you're in contact with anyone who is sick, you should always clean and disinfect common areas, even counters, sinks, faucets, doorknobs, ANYTHING many people come in contact with daily.
6. People are panicking because of how the media is portraying COVID-19
As mentioned earlier, the flu has killed more people than this virus has since it emerged late last year. You don't hear about that, though, because of how the media is covering the outbreak. They're creating a frenzy so people feel like they have to stock up on canned goods and never leave their house, and that's just simply not the case. As long as you practice good infection control and seek medical attention immediately should you start having symptoms, everything will be fine. But, because the media loves to do this sort of thing, they're making everyone panic and making money while doing so.
Not to say that this doesn't deserve media coverage (because it does). But it has been blown out of proportion to such an extent where people are afraid to leave their houses.
Not to sound like Smokey the Bear, but only you can prevent the spreading of false information. Check your sources. Don't share an article just based upon the headline. Do your research and educate others.
Oh, and wash your hands.
For more information on COVID-19 visit the CDC website.
For the worldwide COVID-19 tracking map click here.