Fact or Fiction? 10 common coronavirus claims explained

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Experts are attempting to do more than just stop the spread of coronavirus here in the United States. They’re also trying to stop the spread of coronavirus lies.

J.B. Biunno and Daisy Ruth went live on WFLA Now Tuesday afternoon to break down 10 of the most common coronavirus claims that have been surfacing on social media. With participation from a live audience, they went through each claim one-by-one and explained the reporting behind why it was fact or fiction.

CLAIM #1: COVID-19 symptoms can begin appearing 14 days after exposure.

FACT:

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath.

CDC Website, March 10, 2020

CLAIM #2: Pregnant women are more susceptible to COVID-19.

FACT:

Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19. Pregnant women also might be at risk for severe illness, morbidity, or mortality compared to the general population as observed in cases of other related coronavirus infections [including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)] and other viral respiratory infections, such as influenza, during pregnancy.

CDC Website, March 10, 2020

CLAIM #3: Coronavirus is being spread from products, letters or packages from China.

FICTION:

Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods. Information will be provided on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website as it becomes available.

CDC Website, March 10, 2020

CLAIM #4: The CDC has found cases of COVID-19 being transmitted to pets.

FICTION:

There is no reason to think that any animals, including pets in the United States, might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals. For more information on the many benefits of pet ownership, as well as staying safe and healthy around animals including pets, livestock, and wildlife, visit CDC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy People website.

CDC Website, March 10, 2020

CLAIM #5: Increasing the showers or baths you take can help stop the spread.

FACT:

In addition to the CDC recommending extended time for washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, the experts say routinely washing your entire body in the bath or shower is also a good idea. While there are no specific guidelines on how often you should scrub head-to-toe, overall hygiene of your entire body – not just your hands and face – is considered important in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

CLAIM #6: The new coronavirus is man-made.

FICTION:

Although the conspiracy theories will continue to run rampant, various reports and many federal officials have affirmed that the coronavirus is believed to have originated in animals of the Wuhan province of China before being shared to humans. Which animals they originated from exactly is still being researched, according to Harvard Health and other medical publications.

CLAIM #7: There is more than one strain of COVID-19.

FACT:

Scientists in China claim to have identified two main strains of the coronavirus that is circulating in humans, indicating that the virus is mutating. Researchers at Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institute Pasteur of Shanghai say the COVID-19 virus, which has since been renamed SARS-CoV2, has evolved into two major lineages, known as “L” and “S” types. The newer and more aggressive L type strain accounted for about 70 per cent of the analysed cases, the researchers said, while the rest were linked to the older S type version.

ScienceFocus, March 6, 2020

CLAIM #8: COVID-19 is transmittable by mosquito bites.

FICTION:

In addition to various publications on the subject, epidemiologist Dr. Macklin Guzman was live on WFLA Now on Monday to dispell the rumor that mosquitoes are carrying coronavirus. Fortunately for us here in Florida, there is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted via mosquito like with the Zika outbreak several years ago.

CLAIM #9: Every coronavirus case in Florida is of someone age 54 or higher.

FICTION:

As of this writing, only a single positive test of coronavirus here in Florida belonged to someone under 54 years old. That case is from a 29-year-old Hillsborough County woman who contracted the virus during a recent trip through northern Italy. The rest of the cases, as of March 10, are from men and women in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s with varying degrees of international travel, including some with none recently. For reasons still being researched, coronavirus tends to affect older people more, although anyone of any age can be a carrier.

CLAIM #10: Less than 3 percent of coronavirus cases in China are children.

FACT:

As discussed on WFLA Now, depending on how you evaluate the data, some reports have the total percentage of children contracting coronavirus in China at less than 1 percent. The numbers out of China have varying degrees of reliability, however, the World Health Organization corroborated the findings in a February report, stating children have a “low attack rate” from coronavirus with as little as 2.4% of reported cases coming from individuals aged 18 or younger:

Data on individuals aged 18 years old and under suggest that there is a relatively low attack
rate in this age group (2.4% of all reported cases). Within Wuhan, among testing of ILI
samples, no children were positive in November and December of 2019 and in the first two
weeks of January 2020. From available data, and in the absence of results from serologic
studies, it is not possible to determine the extent of infection among children, what role
children play in transmission, whether children are less susceptible or if they present
differently clinically (i.e. generally milder presentations).

WHO February Coronavirus Report

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