Sunday, March 29, 2020

Busting some coronavirus myths and answering questions

Holding hands

Hello all, I hope you are doing well. The world has gone crazy. There is a lot of misinformation as well as information overload going on. Like everyone else, I am feeling the impact of all of this. In fact, I've had to take a little break from the constant news cycle churn for my sanity.

As you know, the bloggity has been around for a while and the focus has always been on books and romance. This is my happy place. However, with what's going on, I feel like since I am privileged to have this platform that I should (without overwhelming everyone) share some thoughts, insights, and information. I promise this will not get heavy or depressing. And it will not be too frequent. As a person, I always endeavor to remain upbeat.

To that end, I received an email this morning from author HP Mallory. She sent it out as a PSA to help people understand facts and bust some myths surrounding the virus. I thought it was extremely useful information and well presented. She has kindly given me permission to share it with you. I hope you found it as helpful as I did and it brings you a level of clarity and comfort. Feel free to share it with your friends and family too.

I am not sharing this to get into any arguments with anyone. Make of it what you will.

As always, I am thinking of you and hoping you stay safe and healthy. Back to regular programming next.

xoxo, Deanna

Here's what Ms Mallory's email included: (I've pretty much just copy and pasted it)

Coronavirus myths

Disclaimer: I'm sure everyone has different views about what's good advice and what isn't. This list is just meant to help shed light on some questions. Feel free to agree or disagree. 

Misconception: If you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don't have Coronavirus.
Fact: The above post, which began circulating on Twitter, Facebook, and in emails was falsely credited to a member of the "Stanford Hospital board." Stanford Health Care spokeswoman Lisa Kim told CNN the "dangerous" post is not affiliated with Stanford Medicine and "contains inaccurate information."

Misconception: Drinking water will flush the virus from your mouth.
Fact: This post, copied and pasted by multiple Facebook accounts, quotes a "Japanese doctor" who recommends drinking water every 15 minutes to flush out any virus that might have entered the mouth. A version in Arabic has been shared more than 250,000 times!
Professor Trudie Lang at the University of Oxford says there is "no biological mechanism" that would support the idea that you can just wash a respiratory virus down into your stomach and kill it.

Misconception: Parcels from China can spread Coronavirus.
Fact: According to Medical News Today: From previous research into similar coronaviruses, including those that cause SARS and MERS and are similar to SARS-CoV-2, scientists believe that the virus cannot survive on letters or packages for an extended time.
The CDC explains “because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely a very low risk of spread from products or packaging that is shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.”

Misconception: Pets spread Coronavirus to each other and humans.
Fact: According to the CDC, there have been no reported cases of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States, and there is no evidence that companion animals can spread COVID-19. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

Misconception: Vitamin C supplements will stop you from catching Coronavirus.
Fact: According to Researchers have yet to find any evidence that vitamin C supplements can render people immune to COVID-19 infection. In fact, for most people, taking extra vitamin C does not even ward off the common cold, though it may shorten the duration of a cold if you catch one.
That said, vitamin C serves essential roles in the human body and supports normal immune function.
So yes, vitamin C should absolutely be included in your daily diet if you want to maintain a healthy immune system. But megadosing on supplements are unlikely to lower your risk of catching COVID-19, and may at most give you a "modest" advantage against the virus, should you become infected.

Misconception: Hand dryers can kill the virus.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization, hand dryers are not effective in killing Coronavirus. To protect yourself against the virus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Misconception: You can catch Coronavirus from eating Chinese food in the US.
Fact: According to Medical News Today: No, you can't.

Misconception: Aiming a blow dryer up your nostrils can destroy the virus.
Fact: According to US News & World Report: There's no truth to the idea that the heat from a hair dryer can get rid of the coronavirus. “If this worked, we would've been using it and instituting clinical trials with blow dryers rather than worrying about ventilators and ICU beds,” says Dr. Amna Husain, a board-certified pediatrician with Pure Direct Pediatrics. She’s based in Marlboro, New Jersey.

Misconception: The flu shot protects against the virus.
Fact: According to The flu vaccine is designed to prevent infections with influenza viruses, which are very different than coronaviruses. But the answer is slightly more complicated than that: The flu vaccine won't prevent you from getting coronavirus, but it can help officials better respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.
"I do think immunizing people against influenza has a very important indirect effect," said Dr. Albert Ko, a professor, and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health.

Misconception: You can protect yourself by gargling bleach.
Fact: According to Medical News Today: There are no circumstances in which gargling bleach might benefit your health. Bleach is corrosive and can cause serious damage.

Misconception: 5G caused Coronavirus.
Fact: According to CNET, 5G is not responsible for causing the coronavirus. Coronaviruses have been around for decades, long before the advent of the wireless networks we have today.

Misconception: Warm weather will get rid of the virus.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization: From the evidence so far, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather. Regardless of climate, adopt protective measures if you live in, or travel to an area reporting COVID-19.

Misconception: Wearing a mask will protect you from getting Coronavirus.
Fact: According to Standard surgical masks can't protect you from Coronavirus, as they aren't designed to block out viral particles and do not lay flush to the face. That said, surgical masks can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus further by blocking any respiratory droplets that could be expelled from their mouths.
Within health care facilities, special respirators called "N95 respirators" have been shown to greatly reduce the spread of the virus among medical staff.

Misconception: Garlic or herbs will cure or protect you from Coronavirus.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization: Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from coronavirus.

Misconception: African-Americans are immune to Coronavirus.
Fact: According to US News & World Report: The idea that African-Americans are immune to the coronavirus is a myth that has appeared on social media.

Misconception: Spraying alcohol or bleach on your body will protect you against Coronavirus.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization: Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth).

Misconception: Drinking alcohol can protect you from Coronavirus.
Fact: According to US News & World Report: Consuming alcoholic beverages will not protect you from contracting the virus or its effects. In fact, in Iran, dozens of people have died from alcohol poisoning after drinking bootleg booze to try to shield themselves from the Coronavirus, according to an official Iranian news agency.

Misconception: Taking a hot bath will prevent you from getting the virus.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization: Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19.

Misconception: You need to wash your hands with special soap.
Fact: According to US News & World Report: There’s no need to buy soaps that are marketed as “medical” or “antibacterial”. Washing your hands often, for 20 seconds with soap and water, is one of the best ways to prevent being infected with the coronavirus. Regular soap is fine.

Misconception: Coronavirus can be transmitted through mosquito bites.
Fact: According to the World Health Organization: To date, there has been no information nor evidence to suggest the coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

Misconception: Rinsing your nose with saline will help prevent the virus.
Fact: According to US News & World Report: There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with coronavirus.

Misconception: Coronavirus is airborne.
Fact: According to US News & World Report: The coronavirus isn’t airborne – you can’t get it merely by breathing the same air as an infected person. Health officials say the primary mode of transmission occurs when an infected person coughs or sneezes on someone.

Coronavirus questions

Question: Can I take ibuprofen, aspirin or Advil?
Answer (from CNN): This one is not black and white because there are conflicting reports. The FDA and the European Medicines Agency both say that there isn't enough scientific evidence that shows taking ibuprofen or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen a coronavirus infection. The FDA says it is now looking into the claim to make a further recommendation.

However, several experts backed up these claims in a report published in the British Medical Journal, saying that in general, ibuprofen should not be used to treat fever and that "prolonged illness or the complications of respiratory infections may be more common when NSAIDs are used."

On March 18, 2020, the WHO tweeted that it does not recommend for people with COVID-19 to avoid ibuprofen, and had that information posts on its page about coronavirus myths. However, that information has since been removed as of March 25, 2020. The UK's National Health Service currently recommends taking paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US) to ease coronavirus symptoms, and does not mention taking any NSAIDs.

For now, contact your doctor or medical provider if you think you have a coronavirus infection and get their recommendation on what kinds of medications to take to manage symptoms.

Question: What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?
  • Loss of smell and taste (From the New York Times)
  • Cough: Not just any cough but a dry cough that you feel in your chest. (From CNN health) You won’t cough anything up.
  • Fever: It’s not a fever unless your temperature reaches 100. Take your temperature in the late afternoon or early evening (From CNN health).
  • Exhaustion (From CDC)
  • Difficulty Breathing (From CDC)
  • Shortness of Breath: Can occur without a cough. (From CNN Health) If you have a shortness of breath, call your doctor. If severe, call 911.
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest, bluish lips or face and sudden mental confusion: (From CDC)
Other symptoms:
  • Headaches, digestive issues, body aches and fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing

Coronavirus symptoms

Question: How long does coronavirus stay “alive” on surfaces?
Answer (From CNN):
Up to three days, depending on the surface. According to a study funded by the US National Institutes of Health:
The new coronavirus is viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.
It was viable up to four hours after being placed on copper, and up to 24 hours after being put on cardboard.
In aerosols, it remained viable for three hours.   

Question: Is it safe to get takeout from restaurants?
Answer (From CNN): 
Yes, but you may want to wipe down the packaging and containers, just in case.
There’s no evidence to suggest coronavirus is transmitted through food, the CDC says. It’s generally spread through respiratory droplets.
But it’s a good idea to disinfect the takeout containers and wash your hands afterward, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. He stressed that coronavirus is a respiratory virus, and it’s easy to touch your face without realizing it.

Question: Can you get coronavirus through food?
Answer (From CNN): There is no evidence to support that coronavirus is transmitted through food, the CDC says. It’s generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets.

Question: Who is most at risk?
Answer (from CNN):
Older people (above 60)
Those with other medical conditions: even if young
Those with:
  • Ashthma
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or heart failure
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Cancer (or undergoing chemo)
  • HIV
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Kidney disease (with dialysis)
  • A Body mass index of above 40 (or extremely obese)

Question: Can coronavirus go through skin and into the body?
Answer: “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the CDC says.
More often than not, people get coronavirus through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
“These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs,” the CDC says.

Question: How long is someone contagious after getting coronavirus?
Answer: It varies. Decisions about when a person can be released from isolation are made on a case-by-case basis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for when it is OK to release someone from isolation. They include meeting all of these requirements:
  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
“Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others,” the CDC says.

Question: Can I get the flu and coronavirus at the same time?
Answer (from CNN): It’s possible.
They share common symptoms, especially fever and cough. But many coronavirus patients suffer from shortness of breath, a hallmark of Covid-19. Other coronavirus patients show no symptoms.
Learn more about how to tell the difference between the flu, coronavirus and allergies here.

Question: Should I disinfect my groceries? If so, how?
Answer: “I would suggest wiping down external surfaces of canned or wrapped foods,” said Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center.
“You should be washing your vegetables (and) produce anyway,” she said. “But I think making sure you sanitize your hands, wash your hands after you do all that – after you unpack all your groceries – is also a key step.”

Hand sanitizer

Question: The stores are all out of disinfectant sprays and hand sanitizer. Can I make my own?
Answer (from CNN): Yes, you can make your own disinfectant if you’re trying to kill coronavirus on a non-porous surface.
The Nebraska Medical Center – famous for its biocontainment unit and treatment of Ebola patients – offers this recipe:
What you’ll need:
  • 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoon or something for whisking
  • Small container, such as a 3 oz. travel bottle
  • Optional: essential oil to give your hand sanitizer a fragrance
  • In a mixing bowl, stir isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel together until well blended.
  • Add 8-10 drops of scented essential oil (optional, but nice!). Stir to incorporate.
  • Pour the homemade hand sanitizer into an empty container and seal.
  • Write “hand sanitizer” on a piece of masking tape and affix to the bottle.

Question: If traveling on a plane, how do I stay safe?
Answer (from CNN): It’s not the cabin air you need to worry about. It’s keeping your hands clean. Always be mindful of where your hands have been, travel medicine specialist Dr. Richard Dawood said. Airport handrails, door handles and airplane lavatory levers are notoriously dirty.
“It is OK to touch these things as long as you then wash or sanitize your hands before contaminating your face, touching or handling food,” Dawood said.
“Hand sanitizers are great. So are antiseptic hand wipes, which you can also use to wipe down armrests, remote controls at your seat and your tray table.”

Question: Should I spray myself or my kids with disinfectant?
Answer (from CNN): No. Those products work on surfaces but can be dangerous to your body. If the virus is already in your body, putting those substances on your skin or under your nose won’t kill it, the World Health Organization says. Not to mention, those chemicals can harm you.
And please – do not ingest chemical disinfectants.

Stay safe thumbs up

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