5 Myths About COVID-19 That You Need to Explain to Your Patients

Female doctor wearing a facemask while extending here hand wide open. She is wearing a facemask

COVID-19, we have all heard about it, and we all can’t wait until it’s over. However, it’s the single-most-important topic on everyone’s minds, and it remains the subject of regular updates from health officials. Yet, the spread of misinformation about Covid-19 continues to spread like the virus itself. We’ve compiled 5 myths about Covid-19 that you need to explain to your patients. 

The Numbers are Skewed 

Let’s be real for a second. Although we have EMR that’s mandated across the United States — it’s near impossible to get entirely accurate data, especially when testing is being done privately at home with illegally purchased testing kits.

When a patient tries to argue with you about the numbers — level with them by sharing this with them first, then you can do your best to explain that you’ve been on the forefront, you’ve seen it and this is unlike anything you’ve seen in your years of experience. Sometimes hearing first-hand from someone is what it takes. Most people don’t believe something until we see it — thanks to modern-day technology. 

Another trick? Please direct them to trustworthy sources of information.

Masks Don’t Work 

This should be easy to explain if you’ve spent time working in the medical field. Nurses wear masks for long shifts as part of their job. You’re fit tested for them, and you wear different masks depending on the situation. This needs to be explained better in the media and across the board. If people better understood when surgical masks are used, N95’s, etc., maybe they would respect the fact they work more.

However, people purchase bandanas, cotton masks that are meant to be breathable, then get sick and assume they don’t work. Surgeons wear surgical masks for 12+ hour surgeries to protect the patient; nurses wear N95s to protect themselves and the patient from airborne diseases.

Dust masks are simply used for dust, and cloth masks, although better than nothing, without a filer do not provide much protection because the material used to make them is meant to have large holes to make the product “breathable’. For more information on masks, visit our blog on 5 Ways to Respond to Someone Who Refuses to Wear a Mask or Get Masks to Front of The Line Healthcare Workers.

Herd Immunity 

Herd immunity (when enough people have recovered from the virus and developed immunity to it so that now they cannot infect other people or get sick again themselves) is being deemed as the answer to our problems. However, for some diseases like measles, this percentage of people who need to have herd immunity is high – 90% of the population stops the spread. For Covid-19, the herd immunity threshold is estimated to be around 70%.

Considering the death toll of such a strategy, this is far from the best approach. Additionally, scientists still don’t understand how long we are “immune” for. For example, if this immunity only lasts for a few weeks, this is not long enough to allow for a good proportion of the population to become infected and then immune as well. 

According to the WHO, only 2-3% of the world population has developed antibodies against the coronavirus to date — far from the 70%, we would need to hit. Thus not making this strategy the most effective. 

Young, Healthy People Don’t Get Sick

Much like any virus or disease, if you are healthy, have a strong immune system, and no pre-existing conditions, you may be in better shape. Still, they can easily transmit it unknowingly to vulnerable people. In respect to others, it’s essential to keep social distancing. Additionally, think of it like rolling the dice on your life. 

In some people, like the 47-year-old Joshua Fiske was in great shape before he got infected, the immune response can get out of hand, and we never truly know how the body will react despite age and overall health risk. Scientists have no way of predicting how a certain organism is going to respond to the virus at this point. However, the number of seriously ill young, otherwise healthy people indicates that no one is in the clear.

Doctors and Nurses are Adequately Protected from COVID-19 

Many of you know that Doctors and nurses are running out of the protective (N95) masks and other PPE materials that they need to reduce the chances of being infected by COVID-19 significantly. For about the cost of running an ICU for one day, every hospital in the country could have purchased and stockpiled an ample supply of masks.

They didn’t, and now many physicians and nurses must work at an unnecessarily heightened risk. When healthcare workers are at risk, so are their patients. Much has been made about the shortage of supplies, ventilators, and space. Just like anyone, when clinicians become ill, they remain contagious for up to 14 days. If they are not adequately protected with the proper PPE, they can transmit it to their patients — and worse will need to take time off work, in turn, causing lower staffing numbers while the census continues to rise.

Have you heard more myths about COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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