How to spot a falsehood and where you can fact check
If you log onto social media, almost everyone is talking about COVID-19. The outbreak has become a trending topic on all platforms, whether you are a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn user.
Because COVID-19 is still relatively new, a lot of misinformation and false facts have surfaced across the web. It can be easy to jump down a rabbit hole of fake news when scrolling through the social media platform of your choice. This misinformation can lead to paranoia and can even cause someone to try something dangerous in order to cure or prevent COVID-19.
How do you tell fact from fiction? The answer is simpler than you think: Do your own research. When you see a post on social media, don’t assume it’s true. It’s OK to question a post and search for an answer on your own. Reading news from trusted news sites and medical system websites like rush.edu is a great way of staying informed without being misled. And if you see a story online that apears acurate but still seems far-fetched, you can use websites like Snopes, factcheck.org or the AP fact check page.
The truth behind common COVID-19 myths
While it’s always important to do your own research, for your convenience we have compiled a list of the common myths we’ve seen so far during the outbreak — and explain whether or not they are valid.
COVID-19 isn’t as serious as the seasonal flu.
FALSE: While most COVID-19 cases will be mild, and most patients will only show seasonal flu symptoms, this disease has a high mortality rate specifically among older people and those who are immunocompromised.
Ordering or buying products shipped from China will make a person sick.
FALSE: There is no evidence to show that there has been transmission through packages. Officials say because of the poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.
While you may not be experiencing symptoms, it's important to practice social distancing to protect yourself and the people around you.
Wearing a mask will protect me from COVID-19.
TRUE: Masks do prevent you from spreading COVID-19 to others. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain like the grocery store. It’s important to remember that the best prevention techniques are good hand hygiene and social distancing practices. The CDC is recommending cloth masks only to keep people who may have the virus but don’t know it from transmitting the virus to others, helping to slow the spread.
FALSE: Most masks — besides masks like N95s — will not protect a person from being infected. The purpose of wearing a mask or face covering is to prevent you from spreading an infection to someone else. This is especially important because carriers of COVID-19 can be asymptomatic.
I’m healthy, so I don’t need to practice social distancing.
FALSE: While you may be healthy, you could still be a carrier of the virus. You also increase your risk of getting infected and then spreading it to others who may be at a higher risk for severe illness. While you may not be experiencing symptoms, it's important to practice social distancing to protect not only yourself but the people around you.
Pets can spread the virus.
FALSE: There is no evidence to suggest that household pets are carriers of COVID-19. It is still recommended that you practice good hand hygiene after handling pets.
You can protect yourself by gargling bleach or using essential oils.
FALSE: Gargling bleach will not protect you from COVID-19 and is very dangerous. Things that can help protect you from infection include washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, and wiping down surfaces.
The virus cannot survive in warm weather.
FALSE: While many cold/flu viruses tend to drop out during the warmer months, there is no research to suggest that this will happen with COVID-19. Warmer areas around the world are experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19, so no one knows at this time if warmer weather will kill the virus.
These are just some of the myths circulating on the Internet. As this global pandemic continues, it’s more important than ever to stay informed. Just make sure to always fact-check what you are seeing on social media before you take any actions or make any decisions for yourself or your family.