The current coronavirus pandemic has the rumor mill churning on the best ways to stay safe and to prevent the spread of infection. During existential crises such as this, it’s important to know the facts and dispel misinformation in order to protect yourself and those around you. Aftermath Services is the #1 biohazard remediation and virucidal disinfection company in the US and we’re here to address the 6 most concerning myths surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Note: as a general rule of thumb, do NOT take any medical advice regarding coronavirus from anybody other than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO). Online claims of eating garlic or taking “mineral supplements” to wipe out the virus are patently false and put people in danger. There are currently no known foods or medicines that eliminate coronavirus.
Myth: Surgical Masks Will Protect You From Coronavirus
Surgical masks’ main utilization is to stop a doctor’s cough or sneeze from infecting a patient during medical procedures, not the other way around. They generally do nothing to protect the wearer from coronavirus. While it is recommended to wear some sort of mask if you feel symptoms, it is by no means a pass to leave the home or stop practicing other safety precautions. Self-quarantining is still essential if you show symptoms or have come into contact with someone that has tested positive.
That being said, N95 respirators are used by healthcare workers that deal with infected patients and do a better job of protecting the wearer. Aftermath Service’s COVID-19 cleanup technicians wear NIOSH approved air purifying full face respirators—many times more protective than the N95. This type of heavy duty equipment is not readily available for the public.
Myth: Antibacterial Soap Won’t Help
There are rumors that since COVID-19 is a virus and not a bacterium, antibacterial soap will not kill the virus — but this is simply not true. According to Pall Thordarson, a professor of chemistry at University of New South Wales, Sydney,
“. . .the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.”
The combination of soapy water and vigorous rubbing will essentially disassemble the virus’ building blocks as well as dissolve the “sticky” part that causes the virus to adhere to human skin. Hand sanitizers (with 60%+ alcohol content) work in a similar way; however, they are nowhere near as reliable as soap and water because they do not guarantee the same amount of hand coverage.
Myth: You’ll Know You Have it
Actually, COVID-19 is especially insidious because most infected people do not know they have it. The virus has an incubation period of 2 weeks, which means from the time of infection to symptoms actually surfacing, 2 weeks will have already passed. During this incubation period, the infected person is still highly contagious, which is what makes this coronavirus so difficult for officials to track and contain. Some people can even be highly contagious and asymptomatic, meaning they will not show symptoms but are still capable of spreading it to others. This is why self-quarantine is so crucial and why so many industries have either shut down entirely or are implementing remote work policies.
Additionally, the CDC recently reported that the virus can be found on surfaces for up to 17 days after initial contact.
Myth: Heat Kills the Virus
You may have seen online advice (never from actual medical sources, mind you) that heat will kill coronavirus — from saunas, hair dryers, hot tubs, and baths, to drinking tea. But this is utterly untrue. While most viruses outside the body can be killed by temperatures exceeding 140F, there is yet no evidence that heat affects COVID-19. Furthermore, drinking tea, taking a bath or sitting in a sauna will not change your internal body temperature; and if you did have an internal temperature of 140F, you’d be long dead. Once the virus is inside your body, there is simply no way to kill it — your immune system has to fight it off.
So go ahead and take a hot bath to de-stress, but bear in mind it will have no medical benefits whatsoever in terms of protecting yourself against coronavirus.
Myth: Flu Vaccines Will Protect You
The coronavirus is NOT the same thing as the flu. It is not a “more aggressive form” of the flu and it does not behave in any way, shape or form, similar to the flu. The only thing COVID-19 and flu patients have in common are some symptoms. However, COVID-19 is far deadlier, more contagious, and there is no available vaccine or known cure…yet.
Not to be alarmist, but it is truly imperative that people understand the severity of this virus and the real consequences of ignoring safety precautions. As stated above, you can be infected and not even know it. Having a cavalier attitude of, “I’m young so it won’t affect me” can get people, including your older family members, killed.
Myth: It’s Not Deadlier Than the Flu
Coronavirus’ fatality rate thus far is 20x higher than the flu. Experts estimate that carriers of COVID-19 will infect 2-3 other people, making it twice as contagious as the seasonal flu. Add to it the rapidity of its spread, its ability to overwhelm healthcare systems, shortages on testing kits and medical equipment, and no available vaccine in the immediate future, and we have a virus far more sinister than your average seasonal flu.
Keeping yourself and those around you safe by practicing basic health safety such as social distancing and proper handwashing is crucial to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.