UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health debunks COVID-19 myths, urges public not to fall for “traps”

(Source: UW-Madison)
(Source: UW-Madison)(NBC15)
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 9:49 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With myths circulating on social media and new research constantly emerging, University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine and Public Health is urging the public to think critically before liking, sharing or posting information surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Ajay Sethi, Faculty Director of the Master of Public Health program at the UW SMPH says there's a lot of false messages being circulated around COVID-19.

“I think the main thing is to rely on primary sources,” Sethi says. “People who have credentials, who care about our health and the community and are working very carefully to give messages that are very clear and that are not making false promises.”

UW SMPH says the following are best practices for finding and sharing information regarding the virus:

  • One the web: Use trusted resources managed by experts such as sites run by the DC, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and UW Health
  • In TV: Take note of who is speaking. Ask yourself, are they a physician? A nurse? A public Health expert? Or are they quoting someone who is? Are there other healthcare providers sharing similar, up-to-date information and recommendations?
  • On social media: Think critically about everything you see. Media journals, reputable news sources and healthcare organizations review information for accuracy Before “liking” or “sharing,” seek the above sources for the most accurate information.

Sethi says the amount of information out there right, combined with the fact that knowledge of COVID-19is constantly evolving, can be overwhelming, even for those in the medical field.

“Scientific and medical information is being generated and disseminated hourly and daily,” Sethi said. “Keeping up can be overwhelming, and it’s important for all of use to take our time to process information after we see it, particularly if it contradicts what we have heard before and already believe.”

For example, while early trends led medical professionals to focus on older adults, it is now known that younger people also get the virus and can display serious symptoms.

“Everybody with a set of lungs is part of this chain of transmission of this diseases in the community. This virus can certainly land in the lungs of someone who is older, who has underlying health conditions and the virus can be very serious in them. But younger people can also get severe disease.”

Sethi says in terms of cleaning products, any household product will work to disinfect surfaces. He said that receiving a package from outside the U.S. should not be of concern as it is very unlikely the virus could survive the trip, and that there is no home-remedy for curing COVID-19. Finally, he explained that cloth masks are necessary in preventing the spread of the virus, contrary to opinions found on social media.

“Definitely resist falling for those traps,” he said.

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