False information about COVID-19 has circulated widely across social media in recent months. These are the top myths to look out for online, according to Dr. Shailesh Patel, chief medical officer at Methodist-Olive Branch.
Myth: Young people can’t get sick
The coronavirus affects young people, and though the number of risks or comorbidities may be lower in younger populations, it can still be dangerous, Dr. Patel said in a virtual press conference today. People in their teens and 20s are not immune from severe cases of the virus — one otherwise-healthy woman in the United States had to have a double lung transplant because of COVID-19.
The virus can even be deadly for young people, Dr. Patel said.
Myth: COVID-19 is no worse than the flu
As more data about the virus comes in, it is increasingly clear that COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu.
“COVID-19, unfortunately, has a higher hospitalization rate than influenza and a higher death rate than the flu,” Dr. Patel said.
Myth: Masks lower oxygen levels and raise carbon dioxide levels
Wearing a mask does not lower oxygen levels or elevate carbon dioxide levels in people, Dr. Patel said. They simply protect others.
“This is obviously very false,” he said. “(Wearing a mask) is something that’s been done in the medical field for a very long time.”
Dr. Patel, along with many other hospital employees, sometimes wear multiple masks for hours throughout the day.
Though wearing a mask can be uncomfortable for some people, it does not lower oxygen levels and helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Myth: You don’t need a mask when you stand six feet apart from others
Dr. Patel said that even though everyone should practice social distancing by having six or more feet of distance between two or more people, masks are still useful when social distancing is being practiced.
“The mask puts an extra barrier of protection on everyone,” he said.
Myth: COVID-19 can spread through 5G radio waves
Viruses cannot spread through 5G waves, Dr. Patel said.
While 5G infrastructure is being built throughout the United States for faster internet connectivity, it does not affect the transmission of the coronavirus.
“Viruses cannot be spread on radio waves,” he said. “That’s not physically possible.”
Checking future social media myths
Information circulated on social media is often not checked by medical professionals or existing evidence.
If something looks suspicious or the source leaves the viewer uncertain, Dr. Patel encourages everyone to reach out to a medical professional, like their doctor, for accurate information.