COVID-19: Facts vs. Fiction


There’s a flood of information about COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) out there. But how do you know what’s true? Here, we separate fact from fiction. Read on to find out what advice you can count on.

MYTH #1: It’s no longer critical to maintain physical distance or wear masks.

Communities are gradually lessening restrictions, but that doesn’t mean the risk of contracting the virus is gone. It’s still critical to maintain physical distance of at least six feet from people you don’t live with. Anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask that covers the mouth and nose when out in public.

In Los Angeles, you’re required to wear a facial covering when you’re out:

  • Running errands
  • Visiting businesses and restaurants
  • Using trails, beaches, parks, golf courses and other public recreation areas
  • Riding public transportation
  • Visiting the airport
  • Visiting your doctor’s office

MYTH #2: There’s an effective COVID-19 treatment available.

Currently, there’s no medication approved to prevent or treat COVID-19. The experimental antiviral drug remdesivir received FDA approval to be used for severe cases. Researchers are testing several other treatments.

For life-threatening cases, the FDA has issued emergency approval for the experimental use of antibodies from people who’ve recovered from COVID-19. These proteins develop in your blood after you’ve successfully fought off an infection. If you’ve had COVID-19 and are fully recovered, consider donating your blood plasma.

MYTH #3: High temperatures will kill coronavirus.

It’s true that cooking food at high temperatures can kill germs. Your body also uses heat, in the form of fever, to fight bacterial and viral infections.

But if you’ve been infected with the new coronavirus, a hot bath won’t make you better. Your internal temperature will remain the same no matter how hot the bath water. Blasting hot air from a hand dryer onto your skin, hands, nostrils or throat doesn’t fend off the illness either.

Also, warmer outdoor temperatures probably won’t make COVID-19 disappear. Scientists think that the new coronavirus may be similar to the flu and colds. They cause less illness in warmer seasons but still make some people sick. It’s also important to note that COVID-19 is circulating in countries with hot weather.

MYTH #4: Light from a UV lamp can disinfect your hands and skin.

UV (ultraviolet) light is the same type of light that comes from the sun. It can kill germs. Some hospitals and subway systems use UV lights to disinfect surfaces, but only when there are no people present. That’s because UV light can also burn your skin and eyes.

The most effective way to get rid of germs on your skin is to scrub with soap and water for 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative.

MYTH #5: Bleach or other disinfectant is an option to use on your body to protect from COVID-19.

Only use disinfectants like bleach on surfaces of your home – never on yourself. Bleach and other cleaning chemicals are poisonous if swallowed. Don’t apply them to your body either. They can damage your skin and eyes.

MYTH #6: Certain foods or supplements can fight off COVID-19.

At this time, no food or supplement has been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19. Researchers are studying a number of things to see if they can be helpful, including zinc, vitamins C and D, and melatonin. But results won’t be available for at least several months.

The best way to keep your immune system strong is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise at moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes a week.
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

MYTH #7: You won’t catch coronavirus if you’re outdoors.

It’s possible to catch the new coronavirus in open outdoor spaces. When you’re outside you should still:

  • Maintain a social distance of six feet from other people not in your household.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid touching surfaces.
  • Wash your hands when you get home.

MYTH #8: COVID-19 isn’t as harmful in children.

Those who have the highest risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms are people age 65 and older, and people of any age with an underlying medical condition. But anyone can get COVID-19, including children.

Children’s symptoms tend to be milder than those in adults, if they have symptoms at all. But recent reports indicate that some children may develop life-threatening complications that affect the heart and other organs. More recently, there have been reports of symptoms similar to the rare inflammatory Kawasaki disease in children.

MYTH #9: Everyone who catches COVID-19 ends up on a ventilator.

The truth is that 80% of people who have COVID-19 experience mild symptoms. Most recover at home. You’re more likely to develop severe symptoms requiring hospitalization and a ventilator if you’re an older adult or have another medical condition. Have more questions? Check COVID-19 frequently asked questions. You can also stay up to date with coronavirus information from UCLA Health.