I want to go on the record and say that I am NOT a doctor. Or a disease expert. I am, however, someone that can research things in places other than Twitter, and with hysteria over coronavirus (COVID-19) at an all-time high, it's time to put some myths to bed about it.
Yes, people are freaking out over coronavirus, a potentially deadly flu-like disease that is quickly approaching pandemic status, according to the CDC. In fact, a recent source says it's a matter of "when", not "if" there will be a global coronavirus outbreak. With over 80,000 reported cases in more than 40 countries, and 2,000+ deaths associated with the disease, we may already be at that point.
However, because Twitter is...well....Twitter, a lot of false information has been spread about treatment, exposure risk, and source of the respiratory infection.
Coronavirus doesn't come from your pets
This one's weird, but inflamed by (unconfirmed) reports that Chinese officials are rounding up pets in local villages to prevent them from the disease. While it's true that pets can be infected by diseases LIKE COVID-19, there is no actual data supporting that the disease can spread from your pup to you.
There is no vaccine for coronavirus
Similar, however, to other viruses, the best way to prevent contracting COVID-19 is to avoid close contact with those that are sick, wash your hands frequently, stay home when you're sick, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Basically, pretend like you're avoiding the flu. Same concept. And on that note....
The masks don't really matter
If you're sick, or in close contact with someone who's sick, you should absolutely wear a surgical mask. Otherwise, it doesn't really do any good. In fact, on the CDC's website they even discourage people who are healthy from wearing them. And, if you're accidentally exposed to the disease, the chances are those thin masks won't do a thing. And that's good, too, because if you ARE able to find them, there's a ton of price-gouging going on out there. Some masks on Amazon are going for as high as $160 for a pack of 100. As a point of reference, a pack of 20 is usually about 2 bucks at Walmart.
Coronavirus has nothing to do with Corona beer
It's crazy that we even have to say this, but the two are in no way linked. And if you think we're joking, check out this article about YouGov's "Buzz score" on Corona beer - a measure of brand image in the public zeitgeist. It's taken quite a tumble over the last four weeks, reportedly linked to jokes and rumors that the brand was somehow responsible for the coronavirus outbreak. No, the virus is not named after a beer - it comes from the Latin word for "crown".
It's not necessarily a death sentence
In fact, it's probably not a death sentence, unless it goes untreated. The CDC says the greatest risk of fatalities from COVID-19 are in elderly people and those with underlying illnesses - similar to any influenza. While there have been quite a few deaths from coronavirus, the fatality rate is currently sitting at around 3.5%. Again, it's not nothing, but considering that less than 100 of those deaths have come outside of China, that number is a little inflated. Not to say that there's nothing to worry about, but as long as you go through proper preventative measures and, if you get sick, treat it immediately and properly, the chances of coronavirus suddenly becoming the plague is relatively low.
That said, be prepared
The CDC still is wary of this thing continuing to spread globally and become more serious. While there's no need to panic, you should definitely be prepared. Buzzfeed put together a pretty thorough article about what you need in case a coronavirus outbreak really does become a pandemic in the Western Hemisphere. Basically - don't overdo it, but make sure you have the supplies you would normally have on hand to treat the flu, along with some extra frozen or nonperishable food items, extra pet food, and extra medication. If you've ever lived in a coastal city and prepared for a hurricane, this is nothing new for you.
Moral of the story: When it comes to coronavirus be smart, don't panic, and don't believe everything you read on Twitter.