Information about the new coronavirus and COVID-19 is spreading almost as quickly as the virus. But many people still have more questions than answers, and uncertainty about what can be trusted.
We spoke with Joseph Gastaldo, MD, OhioHealth’s medical director of infectious diseases to bust some of the common myths floating around about COVID-19. Here’s what he had to say.
MYTH: COVID-19 mostly affects older people.
Coronaviruses can infect anybody. It does not discriminate against age. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, those who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are those over 60, people with other health conditions and pregnant people.
MYTH: The panic around COVID-19 is media-driven.
The panic is not created by the media. It’s the media’s job to serve the public by helping to promote safety. They do this by sharing statements coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Department of Health and Columbus Public Health.
MYTH: We shouldn’t panic because this isn’t anything unusual. Around 18,000–20,000 people have died from the flu since October, and this happens nearly every flu season.
COVID-19 is caused by a completely new virus and we do not have widespread access to a vaccine yet to prevent it like we do for the flu. This means everybody in the world is susceptible to it.
MYTH: Items that come from China can transmit the new coronavirus.
This is also a big myth. You can’t get the new coronavirus from items produced in China.
MYTH: Antibiotics are effective in preventing and treating COVID-19.
Antibiotics are only useful for treating bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus (the new coronavirus). Antibiotics are completely ineffective against any kind of virus.
MYTH: If you have COVID-19, taking ibuprofen will make you sicker.
At this time, there isn’t enough clear evidence to prove that taking ibuprofen makes you more susceptible to COVID-19. If you’re already taking ibuprofen for other health conditions, you should continue to do so. If you are looking to reduce a fever, acetaminophen is a more effective option.
MYTH: You should go to a hospital if you believe you have COVID-19.
If you start to experience symptoms of COVID-19, do not go to the emergency department or urgent care. Testing kits are not available at these locations, and by walking into these spaces you could potentially infect other patients, physicians, nurses and staff. If you suspect you have COVID-19, call your primary care physician’s office or the Ohio Department of Health’s 24-hour COVID-19 hotline at 1 (833) 4-ASK-ODH (427-5634).