News about the deadly virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China in late 2019 is everywhere. The virus is officially called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. It is also called Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), 2019-nCov, 2019 Novel Coronavirus, and SARS-CoV-2. The disease the virus causes is called COVID-19.
Although there are many useful and reliable sources for information, there is an enormous amount of misinformation circulating the internet and social media. Some major media outlets are even complicit in downplaying the magnitude of this situation. Many young people are adopting a “whatever” attitude which is a serious threat to those who are at high risk.
Reliable online information sources for Coronavirus and COVID-19
The following resources are reliable sources of information:
- the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Disease Outbreak pages contain up-to-date and global information
- the US Coronavirus.gov
- the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Index
- the US Food and Drug Administration
- the UKâ€™s National Health Service
- the US National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus
- the WhiteHouse.gov’s 15 Days to Slow the Spread PDF
- Blots.org Coronavirus Resources Page
- Well-sourced map and date (Johns Hopkins)
Shareable media about COVID-19
The following resources are easy to share on social media platforms, email, and more.
- Facts About COVID-19 (Image)
- Facts About COVID-19 (PDF)
- Downloadable resources from the WHO
- Exponential growth and epidemics YouTube video
Quick facts about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The following information should not be used to make a medical diagnosis and is for informational purposes only. Please consult your local medical authorities for all medical advice.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus.
“The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (1 meter or 3 feet) with people who are unwell.” Source: World Health Organization.
How Coronavirus Spreads
“Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.” Source: World Health Organization.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus and the recommended way to prevent the illness is to avoid exposure.
The CDC reports that the virus spreads, “Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”
“Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Please consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.” Source: CDC.gov
How to protect yourself
Takes these steps to protect yourself:
- Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
- Maintain social distancing (keep at least 3 feet or 1-meter distance between yourself and others).
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Self-isolate by putting distance between yourself and other people.
- If you are sick, stay home. Do NOT go to a doctor’s office without first calling your doctor. Call your healthcare provider for medical advice.
- Cover coughs and sneezes by using a tissue to cover your mouth and nose.
- Immediately throw away used tissues and wash your hands.
- If you are NOT sick then you do not need to wear a facemask.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Source: CDC.gov and WHO.int
Watch the WHO’s short YouTube Video
Misinformation about COVID-19 is everywhere
Misinformation (conspiracy theories and unfounded claims) regarding the virus is spreading across every major social media website.
What follows are some examples of unfounded claims that are currently circulating:
- â€œOregano Oil Proves Effective Against Coronavirus,â€ an unfounded claim
- a hoax stating that the US government had created and patented a vaccine for coronavirus years ago, shared with nearly 5,000 Facebook users
- a false claim that â€œcoronavirus is a human-made virus in the laboratoryâ€
- sales of unproven â€œnonmedical immune boostersâ€ to help people ward off 2019-nCoV
- unfounded recommendations to prevent infection by taking vitamin C and avoiding spicy foods
- dangerous suggestions that drinking bleach and snorting cocaine can cure coronavirus infection
- a video with useless advice about preventing infection with the new coronavirus by modifying your diet (for example, by avoiding cold drinks, milkshakes, or ice cream). This video, which demonstrates the removal of a parasitic worm from a personâ€™s lip, is many years old and has nothing to do with the current virus.
Spread the word to “Flatten the Curve”
Even if COVID-19 is “unavoidable,” delaying infections will flatten the peak number of illnesses within hospital capacity and significantly reduce deaths. However, spreading educational awareness is crucial because many people are actively ignoring the threat. For example, the Coronavirus pandemic is not preventing college ‘spring breakers’ from partying. See this USA Today interview, ‘If I get corona, I get corona’.
The following image, courtesy of thespinoff.co.nz, is an excellent illustration of the importance of flattening the curve.
Although the virus is highly contagious, it will help tremendously if we can avoid contracting it all at once.
How to spread the word
- Post media from the “shareable media about COVID-19” section above on your social network accounts.
- If you own a website, blog, or any web-property, copy and paste this blog post and publish it on your website. Because writing a blog post takes time, this blog post was licensed under Creative Commons 4.0 for free use so we can spread information as quickly as possible.
- If you own a website consider adding an alert or banner based on these free templates.
How to respond to skeptics
These are some common remarks from skeptics who have adopted a carefree approach to the pandemic.
“The virus is not dangerous for my age range.”
Response: What happens when all of the hospital ICU beds are taken and you get in a car accident? What happens when your parents or grandparents are at risk of becoming infected?
“This is no worse than the flu. Most cases are mild, it’s going to be fine.”
Response: Many people have already had other flues or have been vaccinated. This is not the case for Covid-19, and it’s spreading incredibly fast. A percentage of people who contract coronavirus will require intensive care. If too many people get infected too quickly, healthcare systems will not have enough beds. This results in postponed operations, no beds for accident victims, and not enough medical professionals to maintain a working infrastructure. Each of these results in additional deaths.
“I’m still not convinced this is a big deal.”
Response: Some people may need to hear personal stories in order to fully process the magnitude of the situation. Start by sharing these personal accounts from doctors in Italy who are having to leave people with preexisting conditions to die in hallways.