With the COVID-19 coronavirus turning from a completely unknown virus into a global pandemic in just a few months, people all over the world are understandably trying to make sense of all the information out there about it. Part of the problem, though, is that there are several myths going around about COVID-19 that make it difficult for people to figure what information is accurate. Here are the top 5 coronavirus myths you should be aware of.
1. The Virus Can’t Spread Beyond 6 Feet of an Infected Person
This is probably the most widely believed coronavirus myth out there, largely because the CDC and other health organizations have recommended 6 feet as a suitable social distance. Although this is a guideline that’s easy for people to follow in public, it doesn’t tell the whole story. As we documented in an earlier blog post, strong evidence has emerged that the coronavirus is viable as an aerosol and can spread much farther than 6 feet. Although expert opinion remains divided, several researchers believe that aerosol transmission could be contributing to the rapid spread of the disease.
2. You Can’t Catch COVID-19 From Surfaces
With most people principally concerned about catching COVID-19 from another person, too many people are ignoring the possibility of catching the virus from surfaces. From door handles to plastic bags used to deliver food, the coronavirus can survive on most surfaces for 2-3 days. As a result, it’s extremely important to thoroughly disinfect surfaces before you touch them, wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
3. Only People With Symptoms Can Transmit the Virus
When the first rounds of containment guidelines were released by public health officials around the world, it was recommended that anyone with symptoms self-isolate. At the time, it was widely believed that very few cases of COVID-19 were asymptomatic. Now, however, newer data suggest that up to half of identified cases could be asymptomatic, meaning that even people who appear perfectly healthy could be spreading the virus.
4. Some People Caught it Last Fall
Thanks to poor information online, some people are convinced that they are likely already immune to COVID-19 because they had bad respiratory infections late last autumn. These infections were almost certainly more standard influenza infections, as there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States prior to January 20th. If you had a bad respiratory infection late last fall or early in the winter, you did not have COVID-19.
5. Young People Are Largely Immune
While it is true that people over the age of 60 are much more likely to develop severe symptoms than those in their 20s and 30s, it should not be assumed that younger people are immune from the virus. In fact, young people may represent a larger transmission risk simply because they are less likely to develop symptoms and therefore more likely to spread the virus as asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic carriers.