To help you out, we rounded up eight facts about the coronavirus to keep in mind if you see claims to the contrary.
Fact: Masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus
Several studies support the theory that face coverings reduce the risk of infection. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified before the Senate in September that masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” for combating the pandemic.
Part of the confusion about face coverings seems to have come from President Trump’s false claim in October that 85 percent of people diagnosed with covid-19 wore masks — a mischaracterization of a CDC study.
As The Washington Post’s Fact Checker explained, that study compared groups of people who had tested positive and negative for the coronavirus and found that a much higher percentage of the positive cases had had close contact with someone known to have covid-19. The people in the positive group were also more likely to recently have eaten at a restaurant.
In the 14 days before they got sick, the study says, 71 percent of positive cases and 74 percent of the negatives reported “always” wearing a mask in public. Those numbers are almost the same, with the main difference between the groups being that a higher percentage of the positive cases had contact with an infected person.
Masks, of course, work only when you’re wearing them. It matters what you do when you take them off. Someone can say they “almost always” wore a mask and still could have had instances when they needed to take it off in a public setting — say, while dining out.
Fact: There are no known cures for covid-19
While a cure for covid-19 would be more than welcome, no drug or other treatment has been found to eliminate the illness. Since the coronavirus emerged in China late last year, myriad false rumors have circulated about potential cures, ranging from drinking bleach to snorting cocaine. The Food and Drug Administration has issued nearly 150 warning letters to companies fraudulently promising a cure, treatment, prevention method or diagnostic tool.
In reality, “the pharmaceutical toolbox for physicians to treat covid-19 is seriously restricted,” as The Post’s Christopher Rowland put it in September. The FDA so far has authorized only two drugs for the illness: remdesivir, for in-hospital use, and bamlanivimab, for people with mild or moderate symptoms.
Remdesivir appears only somewhat beneficial, with evidence that it shortens hospital stays but not that it improves a patient’s chance of survival. Health experts have expressed optimism about the effectiveness of bamlanivimab, but the drug is scarce and logistically complicated to administer.
Fact: Hospitals have no reason to purposely diagnose covid-19 inaccurately
The falsehood that hospitals are financially incentivized to over-diagnose people seems to stem from an interview that Minnesota state Sen. Scott Jensen (R) did with Fox…