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Four facts about COVID-19 to help stop the spread of misinformation

Posted at 4:39 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 19:39:03-04

PHOENIX — Here are the four facts you need to know about COVID-19 to help stop the spread of misinformation:

1) There is no FDA approved treatment or vaccination for COVID-19. Research has begun by several labs to develop a vaccination but the timeline for developing a safe and effective vaccine usually takes months. For protection and prevention, the CDC recommends social distancing, disinfecting surfaces, covering your mouth and hands when around others and avoiding touching your face. Other preventative myths have circulated the internet including garlic soup, colloidal silver, using extreme temperatures or nasal sprays. These products warranted a response from the FDA stating they were “selling fraudulent COVID-19 products. These products are unapproved drugs that pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law.” Last month, a Valley man died and his wife was hospitalized after taking chemicals they believed would prevent COVID-19. The FDA said consumers need to be diligent of these products because they could pose a serious risk.

2) Anyone can be affected by COVID-19. Those with pre-existing health conditions and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this infectious disease but, there is a high number of young people contracting the disease as well. Younger people are more likely to have less severe symptoms or possibly be asymptomatic, this poses a threat of transmission to others without knowing. By April 14, the CDC reported that 145,499 of the known cases in the United States were between ages 18 to 44 and that 147,003 were ages 45 to 64.

3) “5G technology does NOT cause coronavirus,” according to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency. This myth has been largely shared online and has no scientific evidence to support it. The origin of how COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China is still under speculation.

Andy Pattison, manager of digital solutions for the World Health Organization, told ABC News that he and his team are working to flag misleading coronavirus information. This involves lobbying for its removal from social media sites like Facebook, Google and Google's YouTube service.

“There’s a lot of misinformation when there is a lack of good information,” said Pattison. “People will fill the void out of fear.”

A Facebook spokesperson said that posts claiming a link between COVID-19 and 5G would be subject to third-party fact-checks, but would not be banned from the platform. However, YouTube said it will remove all content linking the two subjects.

4) Social distancing is working. The CDC says that the spread of COVID-19 is through respiratory droplets from an infected person. Several states are beginning to see a plateau in their cases, making this a critical time to stay home and practice social distancing. “We're seeing that stabilizing, and that gives us great encouragement," Deborah Birx, coronavirus response coordinator for the White House task force, said on NBC’s “Today” last week. Birx emphasized the importance of people not ending the 30-day quarantine early, “if people start going out again and socially interacting, we could see an acute second wave really early.”