For many years, scientists have been saying that humanity is overdue for a major pandemic. Maybe that’s why people are freaking out over Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Stores say that hand sanitizer is flying off the shelves and medical face masks are going for a pretty penny online. With all the media attention, it’s hard not to think that we should panic. Every day there seems to be new information that conflicts with what we’ve previously heard. Let’s talk about Coronavirus – what’s fact and what’s fiction.
FACT: Coronavirus seems to have started in China
While the virus indeed seems to have come from Wuhan, China, that doesn’t mean that Asian people are all carrying Coronavirus. Sadly, there are reports of Asian people, not just those of Chinese descent, facing harassment and threats. It has caused a few deaths here in North America, but, for now, seems to be somewhat contained, though this could change.
FICTION: Corona beer sales have dropped because everyone associates it with Coronavirus
Though it’s apparently true that Corona beer sales have gone down in China, the real story is that ALL beer brands there are seeing sluggish sales at the moment. This is because people are staying home and not socializing as much as they normally would. However, some surveys indicate that people here in the States are erroneously conflating Corona beer with Coronavirus.
FACT: Hand washing is the best way to fight Coronavirus
For the time being, the CDC says that good ol’ soap and water is the best way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. If you have a choice, don’t travel to any area where there is a current outbreak. Other tips are to use basic good hygiene – avoid people who are coughing and sneezing (but don’t be mean – they could just have a cold), and if you have to sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of your elbow instead of your hand.
FICTION: Hand sanitizer is just as good as washing your hands
It’s not that hand sanitizer is useless. It’s just that it’s not a replacement for hand washing. Sanitizer that is made of at least 60% alcohol kills the germs, but doesn’t get them OFF your hands, the way that washing does. It’s best for people whose hands are already relatively clean. That means if your hands have dirt or grease on them, hand sanitizer won’t cut it. You can use sanitizer in a pinch, but if you’ve got the option, just wash your hands.
FACT: Coronavirus is killing the elderly and people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure
Most of the fatalities thus far seem to be in the above demographic. Even kids seem to be surviving. Some estimates say that, while not as many people have been infected with Coronavirus as compared to, say, the flu, a higher percentage of people are dying. But even that estimate may be off, as officials suspect that not everyone is reporting that they’re sick, as the symptoms can be mild for people who are reasonably healthy. Other research indicates that while it’s not killing as many people, it is much more contagious meaning it could end up infecting more people, thus resulting in more fatalities in the long run.
FICTION: Everyone should be wearing face masks
Face masks actually don’t do much for healthy people. The CDC really only recommends them for people who are actually sick with Coronavirus. If you happen to live with someone who has Coronavirus, that may be a different story. Check with local health resources to be sure. But for now, most people don’t need face masks.
All in all, the best thing that any of us can do is check trusted health sources and practice good hygiene. If you’re particularly concerned, make a plan for child care (if you need it) and find out about possible work-from-home options you could use if you needed to be quarantined for a couple of weeks. You could even stock up on some nonperishable food items just to put your mind at ease. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of fact and fiction around Coronavirus. We don’t seem to be at “PANIC” level yet, but staying alert is never a bad strategy.