Common Myths about Coronavirus Explained

March 3, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this Story

David S. Perlin, Ph.D. contributes to topics such as infectious diseases.

Claim: COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu.

This strain of coronavirus seems to be a bit more aggressive than the flu. Especially those with underlying conditions that make them highly susceptible to respiratory diseases.

Although the symptoms can be more aggressive, less people are currently exposed to COVID-19 in the US, making it in some ways, less chance of serious illness than the flu.

Claim: COVID-19 spreads faster than the flu.

It’s not yet clear if COVID-19 spreads faster than the flu, however both do spread quite quickly. Similar to other viruses, coronavirus is spread through droplets that come from the respiratory tract when someone coughs or sneezes.

Claim: You shouldn’t travel outside of the United States.

The risk of COVID-19 infection is only high in some countries with high burdens of disease. CDC updates travel restrictions regularly.

Claim: Everyone should wear a mask.

The average person wearing a mask is not going to do much to protect them. The best way to prevent the spread of disease is to practice good hygiene and common-sense health precautions.

If you are exposed to someone who is ill, wash up immediately and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. Eating healthy and getting enough rest is important as well, to help strengthen your immune system. You should also monitor your symptoms closely and contact your doctor if you start to see signs of illness.

Within health care facilities, special respirators called “N95 respirators” have been shown to greatly reduce the spread of the virus among medical staff.

Claim: COVID-19 will continue to spread.

We should expect to see more cases of coronavirus, however, we are doing our best to isolate those patients. If you use common sense precautions to prevent the spread of disease (practicing good hygiene), there is less of a risk.

Claim: Everyone is at high risk of being impacted by COVID-19.

Similar to the flu, individuals with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. This would include the elderly and hospitalized patients with pneumonia, and those in long-term care facilities.

Claim: Warm weather will kill the virus.

It’s unclear. We are hopeful that coronavirus will dissipate similarly to SARS. The idea is that through isolation and quarantines, the virus will be controlled and die out.

Information about COVID-19 is continuously evolving, but the immediate health risk for the American public who are unlikely to be exposed to the virus at this time is considered low. If you’re concerned, the CDC offers several tools to help determine if you’re at risk of being impacted by COVID-19.

Overall, and we can’t stress this enough, practicing good hygiene is the most important thing you can do at this time. We should think of this as a bad flu for which we don’t have treatments or vaccines yet available.

Next Steps & Resources


  1. David S. Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the Center for Discovery and Innovation at Hackensack Meridian Health
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.