As efforts to contain the coronavirus continue to ramp up across the country, rumors and false information also continue to spread. In an effort to separate the falsehood and half-truths from the facts, we have started a new column to address some of the most pressing questions and concerns.


1.   I have heard drinking a lot of water or gargling with garlic can help keep the Coronavirus at bay. 

 False.  Even though water and garlic have many health benefits, they are not effective in keeping you from getting the virus.

2.    If I don’t have a fever, I don’t have the coronavirus.

 False. Different people exhibit different symptoms. It is believed some people can carry the virus while experiencing no symptoms at all. While the most common symptoms are fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, the WHO also advises you to be on the lookout for difficulty breathing. 

3.  Coronavirus is no more dangerous than the flu.

False. The federal government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Congress on March 11, COVID-19 is approximately 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. It is especially dangerous for older people and people who have high blood pressure, diabetes or a heart condition.   

4.    I am a young person without any underlying medical conditions, but I should still take steps to avoid the coronavirus.

True.  Though the majority of known serious medical conditions are found in older people, the virus can still be fatal or require hospitalization for young people  A young carrier of the virus may pass it on to others who are older or immunocompromised. Health officials are advising everyone, no matter what age, to observe social distancing and wash their hands often.

5.  I need to make sure I use antibacterial soap when I wash my hands.

False.  COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria. There is no evidence at this time that antibacterial soap works any better than any other soap. Washing your hands with soap and water are best. Experts recommend paying special attention to the fingernails and fingertips when you wash for at least 20 seconds. 

6.  The coronavirus is likely go away when the weather gets warmer in the summer.

Likely false. There is much we do not know about this virus, so there's no definitve answer. It is possible the virus will act similarly to the common cold and the flu and diminish in the summer, but there is already evidence this may not be the case. There are hundreds of cases of the virus in Malaysia and Singapore, countries that are close to the equator where the average temperature is similar to what we see in the summer in the United States. 

7.   If I take antibiotics, it will help to cure the coronavirus.

False.  COVID-19 is a virus. Antibiotics work on bacteria and are not effective at warding off viruses. 

8.  We should all purchase face masks to protect against the virus.

False.  The vast majority of transmissions come not from breathing in the virus, but by picking it up on your hands and then touching your face. Masks may help people who have the coronavirus from breathing it out and passing it to others, but people who are not infected may be wasting resources if they wear a mask. There is a worldwide shortage of masks for medical workers and WHO is urging people who are not infected to not purchase them.

9.   Don’t open packages shipped from China, as they could be carrying the virus. 

False. There have yet to be any cases of a letter or package transmitting the virus. Your package from China was probably shipped several days or even weeks ago and it is highly unlikely that COVID-19 would survive that long on a package in transit.

10.  I cannot catch the coronavirus from my pet. 

True. Though it is believed COVID-19 emerged from an animal source, there's no evidence at this time pets can catch the virus or pass it on to humans. Still, the CDC has long advised that it is smart to wash your hands after being around animals. 

11.  It is safe to go work out at the gym.

Mostly false. It is believed perspiration cannot transmit the virus. That said, the virus can survive on workout mats and exercise equipment. You should avoid sharing mats and thoroughly wipe down any equipment before and after you use it, heath experts recommend. You should stay at least six feet away from other individuals. Your safest option may be not going to the gym.

12.  Public transportation should be avoided at this time. 

Mostly true. Many businesses encourage employees to work from home to avoid packing people onto public transportation during rush hour twice a day. However, not everyone has a job that can be done from home. If you see a train or bus that is full of passengers, skip it and wait for the next one. Some people may need to use public transportation to get to a grocery store or doctor’s office. In those cases, avoid touching your face and wash your hands as soon as possible after using public transportation, health officials say. 

13.  A pregnant woman cannot transfer the virus to her fetus.

True.  With an outbreak as new as COVID-19, not a lot of research has been done into how it affects pregnant women and their babies, but initial studies from China’s outbreak have found no episodes of an expectant mother passing the virus onto babies in the womb. 

14.  You can only get the coronavirus if someone coughs or sneezes on you.

False. COVID-19 resides in the respiratory system and is mostly spread through what are known as respiratory droplets, tiny water bubbles projected from the body in a cough or a sneeze. But, it may be passed in other ways. The virus will survive for a time on hard surfaces, so someone who coughs into their hand and then touches a doorknob or desk can pass it on to someone else who later touches those surfaces. 

15.  I can’t get the virus through my skin.

True.  The virus does not get into your body through your skin, it comes into the respiratory system through the mouth, nose, or eyes. That's why health officials advise to wash your hands and avoid touching your face as much as you can.  

16.  Heat from a bathroom hand dryer will kill the coronavirus.

False. The heat from a hand dryer isn’t nearly enough to kill COVID-19. If you dry your hands after thoroughly washing them for at least 20 seconds with soap, there should not be any virus left on your hands anyway. 

17.  I should cancel my routine doctor or dental appointment during this outbreak.

False. This is something for you and your doctor to decide.  This is an important time to maintain good health habits, health officials say. If you are nervous about being in your doctor’s waiting room or have other concerns, health officials advise you to call the doctor’s office and speak to them about what they are doing to ensure their office is sanitary and safe.


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