Coronavirus is spreading across the United States, and the world, at a rapid pace. People are vulnerable, both physically and emotionally as we all try to deal with our “new normal”. Kids home from school, parents home from work, and nowhere to go means a lot of scrolling on the internet. The only thing that seems to be moving as fast as the virus are several pieces of misinformation, and some outright scams. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid being taken in. To be clear, Coronavirus and the risks associated with it are very real, but there are people who are trying to take advantage of the situation. So here are a few tips to avoid scams related to Coronavirus.
The “Hold Your Breath” Test
I saw this circulating not long after people started voluntarily quarantining themselves late last week. I’ll fully admit – I tried it. If you haven’t seen it, supposedly you can “test” yourself for Coronavirus by trying to hold your breath for 10 seconds. The advice allegedly comes from Stanford University, so it seems reputable. The same post also says that if you sip water every 15 minutes, you’ll “wash” the virus into your stomach where “your stomach acid will kill it.” That part, I didn’t believe, and it is not true.
Stanford University actually had to issue a Tweet saying that any advice they might offer would be posted directly on their website and not circulated as a meme. This one seems like it’d be fairly harmless, but if someone actually has the virus and “passes” the breath test, they could end up unknowingly infecting others.
So far, no one has come up with a cure for Coronavirus. Some entities are in very early stages of developing a vaccine, but they say it will be several months before the meds will be ready to use on humans. That hasn’t stopped numerous places from touting “cures” for Coronavirus. None of them are true. I haven’t even heard of scientists saying to do things that people normally do to avoid sickness, like take extra Vitamin C. So far, the only “cure” seems to be staying away from infected people and practicing good hygiene.
Charities and Funds Asking for Donations
It’s natural, and even commendable, that many people want to help those less fortunate during these turbulent times. But there are still people out there who won’t hesitate to take advantage of others’ kindness. If you want to donate to a person or organization, be sure to research them beforehand to make sure that, not only are they who they say they are, but that your money will be used in a way that you agree with. If you’re in doubt, check the Better Business Bureau or the IRS NonProfit Charities Database. Even better, if you’re unsure, consider donating goods such as food or clothing instead of cash.
Be Careful With Email
If you get an email asking for donations or claiming to have information about Coronavirus, treat it carefully. The World Health Organization says it will never ask for donations via email, websites, calls, or texts. The CDC probably won’t do that either. Check the email address it was sent from and google links before you click on them. They could be phishing scams.
With any information related to Coronavirus, if you aren’t sure about a source’s reliability, try Googling the claims. If they’re accurate, you should be able to verify them on a trusted news or health site. Stay alert and you’ll be able to avoid scams related to Coronavirus without too much trouble.