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COVID-19: Myth vs. Reality

Myth: The recent spike in cases is only due to more testing.

Reality: Many states have increased testing capacity in recent weeks, but that doesn’t explain surge in hospitalizations or the percentage of positive tests. The ratio of confirmed cases to tests, called the positivity rate, has increased from 5.3% at the beginning of June to 6.9% on June 29 (7-day average). Hospitalizations from the virus increased in more than a dozen states in the same time period.

Source: Bote, J. & Hauck, G. (2020, June 30) 17 states are pausing reopening plans as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations surge. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/30/covid-cases-states-pausing-reopening-plans-list/3284513001/

Myth: Mostly older people get sick from COVID-19.

Reality: While people over the age of 65 are more likely to be hospitalized with a COVID-19 infection than under 50, younger people are still at risk. The hospitalization rate for Americans older than 65 is 297.6 per 100,000 population compared to 59.2 per 100,000 for those in 18-49 age group. Full recovery even young adult is not a guarantee, as a growing body of evidence shows that anyone who contracts the virus can suffer life-long organ damage.

Sources: Drillinger, M. (2020, June 22) Lifelong Lung Damage: The Serious COVID-19 Complication That Can Hit People in Their 20s. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/lifelong-lung-damage-the-serious-covid-19-complication-that-can-hit-people-in-their-20s

CDC (2020, June 27) Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19-Associated Hospitalizations. https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/COVIDNet/COVID19_3.html

Myth: People who recovered from the virus can’t get reinfected.

Reality: Scientists are confident that infected people develop antibodies that provide at least some protection against the virus. They are less certain about how long this protection lasts. The length of immunity depends on the strain and an individual’s immune response. One study found that immunity could begin to weaken within 2 or 3 months. More research needs to be conducted to determine risk of reinfection.

Sources: Nunez, E. (2020, June 4) COVID-19 antibodies may fade in as little as 2 months, study says. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/covid-19-antibodies-fade-months-study/story?id=71406787

Long, Q., Tang, X., Shi, Q. et al. (2020). Clinical and immunological assessment of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections. Nat Med. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0965-6

Myth: Masks don’t help prevent the spread of COVID-19

Reality: Masks play an important role in controlling the spread of COVID-19. Masks, along with other preventative measures, protect others from exposure to airborne particles released through speaking, breathing  coughing, or sneezing. When everyone wears masks and keeps 6 feet apart, the likelihood of transmission drops dramatically.

Source: Mayo Clinic Staff (2020, May 28) COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-mask/art-20485449

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