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Fact or Fiction: 19 Hot COVID-19 Myths

June 24, 2020

Wearing a mask in public during the COVID-19 pandemic is great advice. But please don't wear blinders when reading about the coronavirus, because a lot of the information bouncing around the Internet is inaccurate. Like these 19 COVID-19 myths: 1. You can't catch COVID-19 unless you're near someone infected with the virus for at least 10 minutes. The World Health Organization says the longer you're near someone with the coronavirus, the more likely you will be infected. But it can take less than 10 minutes. 2.  The virus will diminish, even disappear, in the heat of summer. Summer has only just began, but it's already safe to dismiss this as wishful thinking. COVID-19 cases are surging with daily records of infections in some of the country's warmest states -- Florida, Texas and Arizona. 3. You can get COVID-19 in a swimming pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the virus would not survive in water treated with chlorine or bromine. But you can still catch the coronavirus from other people at the pool. 4. Spraying chlorine on the skin kills COVID-19 in your body. Use chlorine to disinfect surfaces like kitchen counters, but never use it on your skin. It's especially damaging if it enters the eyes or mouth. Chlorine cannot kill a virus in your body. (Injecting or drinking bleach can't kill the virus, but it can kill you!) 5. Thermal scanners can detect COVID-19. A thermal scanner can identify someone with a fever, but it cannot detect COVID-19. 6. The only way to beat COVID-19 other than a vaccine is through herd immunity, with many infected people developing antibodies. To develop herd immunity, infectious disease experts say, an estimated 50 percent to 66 percent of Americans will need to have such antibodies insulating them against COVID-19. But it’s still unclear how effective these antibodies are against possible reinfection. “The virus mutates multiple times and we’re still learning about it," said Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer with Hartford HealthCare.  7. An ultraviolet (UV) lamp can disinfect your hands or other parts of your body. Ultraviolet light should be used to disinfect surfaces, but UV radiation can irritate the skin. 8. COVID-19 can spread on shoes. Doubtful, but if you have infants or young children playing on floors, it's to play it safe an remove your shoes when you enter the house. 9. Cats and dogs get, and spread, coronavirus. With perhaps one exception, there's no evidence that this is true. The one exception: A Pomeranian in Hong Kong whose owner had COVID-19 also tested positive for the coronavirus, but showed no symptoms. 10. Masks do not protect against COVID-19. Masks, despite their bizarre politicization, protect both the wearer and people nearby from being infected by viral particles. Masks and social distancing -- a minimum of 6 feet between other people in public -- have been credited with slowing the spread of coronavirus. A study (click here) showed masks saved lives in Connecticut and other states. "Wearing a mask is the most inexpensive way to reduce spread of the virus," says Dr. Faiqa Cheema, a Hartford HealthCare infectious disease specialist. "It prevents your respiratory droplets and  saliva from remaining contained, thereby protecting others around you." 11. The virus originated in a China laboratory. This conspiracy theory will not die, but there remains no evidence that it is anything but a conspiracy theory. 12. If you can hold your breath for at least 10 seconds, you don't have COVID-19. Because COVID-19 is a virus that can cause a respiratory tract infection, some people think this hold-their-breath test is a good indicator. It's not. It's not possible to tell if you're infected without a test. Remember, you can be infected and show no symptoms. 13. COVID-19 can spread by 5G mobile technology. This conspiracy theory likely started with a 2011 study that concluded bacteria can communicate through electromagnetic signals. Many experts rejected this conclusion. Even if true, SARS-CoV-2 is a virus, not a bacterium. Wuhan, where COVID-19 originated, was also one of China's first cities to test 5G, the fifth-generation for cellular networks. This almost certainly fueled the conspiracy theory. 14. Sucking a lemon or drinking lemon-infused water can kill COVID-19 viral particles. COVID-19 viral particles live in a pH range of 5.5 to 8.5, so some people think that changing the pH in their mouth or body will fight off the coronavirus. But you can't change the pH inside your body. COVID-19 also has other entry points besides the mouth, too, such as the nose or eyes. 15. Sunshine can kill COVID-19. Although it's less likely you'll get COVID-19 outdoors from other people, sunshine has nothing to do with it. 16. Hand dryers can kill COVID-19. In a public bathroom, a hand dryer can spread viral particles throughout the room, possibly increasing your chances of getting COVID-19. It cannot kill COVID-19. 17. Eating garlic can help prevent getting infected with COVID-19. Garlic can boost the immune system, but it can't prevent you from getting COVID-19. 18. If you have COVID-19, do not take ibuprofen. Despite reports in March indicating ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs make COVID-19 case worse, the Food and Drug Administration says no scientific evidence supports this claim. If you're infected with COVID-19 and have a fever, follow the advice of your physician. 19. Hospitals aren't safe now because COVID-19. This fear persists, but hospitals are safe for patients -- particularly those in need of emergency care. A Hartford HealthCare study (click here), for example, found a 38 percent drop in the number of people coming into the hospital with cardiac emergencies since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hartford HealthCare has adopted multiple safety measures, from more frequent disinfecting, health screening of both patients and visitors entering the hospital, virtual-health visits and daily health screening of all hospital staff. (For more details, click here.) Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here. Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor. Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily. Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600).  Get text alerts by texting 31996 with COVID19 in the message field.