WMBF Investigates: Fact checking claims around the coronavirus

Updated: Mar. 3, 2020 at 7:25 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - As cases of the coronavirus spread across the world, so is the misinformation surrounding the illness.

WMBF looked into some of the most common myths to set the record straight.

Lysol and Clorox disinfectant products prove COVID-19 isn’t new: FALSE

The Human Coronavirus is listed on the back of many disinfecting products leading people to...
The Human Coronavirus is listed on the back of many disinfecting products leading people to believe COVID-19 was known about for years. However, COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus.(WMBF)

Multiple photos and videos surfacing on social media show consumers buying Lysol and pointing to the products’ instructions section. The labels list the ‘Human Coronavirus’ as one of the illnesses the product protects against. The realization has caused many on social media to ask why there is no cure if Lysol has known about the coronavirus for years.

EXPLANATION: There is not just one illness called the coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that were first identified in the mid-1960s, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The commonly known strains infect humans and cause symptoms like the common cold. The coronavirus spreading from China is known as COVID-19 and is not the same as the strains already known. The CDC wrote, “Patients with COVID-19 will be evaluated and cared for differently than patients with common coronavirus diagnosis.”

On its website, Lysol stated its products have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to the current strain when used on hard surfaces.

Face masks will prevent infection from the coronavirus: FALSE

Many stores across the county have reported selling out of face masks as people scramble to buy protection in case the virus hits their state.

The CDC does not recommend people wear a face mask to protect themselves from coronavirus. The CDC stated face masks should only be used by people who show symptoms and for health workers and people taking care of others. The masks don’t offer respiratory protection because they don’t filter small particles.

The U.S. Surgeon General has gone as far as to urge people to stop buying the masks. In a tweet last week, the U.S. Surgeon General wrote a shortage of masks may put communities and healthcare providers at risk.

Instead, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoid touching your face, stay at home when you are sick, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.

Hand sanitizer isn’t effective in preventing the coronavirus: FALSE

Some social media posts are claiming since hand sanitizer is antibacterial it is not effective against the coronavirus.

The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after the bathroom, before eating and after coughing or sneezing. However, the CDC said if soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol is OK to use.

It’s not safe to receive a letter or package from China: FALSE

The World Health Organization (WHO) said coronaviruses do not survive for a long time on objects like letters or packages so it is safe to receive packaging from China.

The CDC recommends men shave their beards: FALSE

This image from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been circling the internet...
This image from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been circling the internet making people believe the CDC is telling people to shave their beards to prevent the coronavirus. This image is not related to the coronavirus and was posted in 2017.(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))

Multiple articles have been circulating online claiming the CDC is recommending men shave their beards to protect against the coronavirus. The articles include a graphic created by the CDC that depicts 30 different types of facial hairstyles.

Explanation: The CDC did create the graphic but back in 2017 and not related to the coronavirus or any other illness. The graphic was originally included in a blog for No Shave November that explained facial hair can interfere with the effectiveness of face masks for those who wear them at work.

COVID-19 has a 2% death rate: PARTIALLY TRUE

A Chinese study reported 2% of the 72,314 cases it studied led to death. The study was just conducted in mainland China. In other areas of the country and outside of China, the fatality rate has differed. Experts said it’s still too soon for an accurate fatality rate and the total number of individuals experiencing mild conditions may be under-reported. The fatality rate is likely to drop as more cases and milder cases are reported.

It is also estimated 80% of people infected have minor symptoms.

The Flu is worse than the coronavirus: PARTIALLY FALSE

Health experts are estimating the coronavirus has around a 2% fatality rate. The fatality rate for the flu is usually around .1%. While the percent may sound low, the flu kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year. Again, experts say it is too soon to compare the two viruses.

South Carolina has no reported cases of the coronavirus: TRUE

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported Georgia as the 12th state to report confirmed cases of coronavirus. The two cases in the Atlanta area were linked to a recent trip to Italy.

Later in the day, officials reported a case in Wake County, N.C., making the state the 13th in the country to report a coronavirus case.

Six have died in the U.S. from Washington state and at least nine have recovered.

The total number of confirmed cases is around 89,000, according to NBC.

For more facts, check out the Associated Press’ complete fact check and visit the World Health Organization’s Myth Buster page.

CDC: Frequently Asked Questions on the coronavirus

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