It’s just the flu.” “You don’t have to worry about it if you are young.” “I’m not going to get tested because then I’ll have to quarantine.” “Only 6% of reported deaths were actually caused by COVID-19.”
Misinformation about COVID-19 is rampant in our society and has been since the beginning when people were claiming SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) was made in a Wuhan lab. The above phrases are not only believed, but also used to shrink our responsibility and justify our inaction when it comes to safely decreasing the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is not just the flu. The actual infection with SARS-CoV-2 may not last more than a week or two, but symptoms caused by your immune system can last for months. One woman from Kansas shared her experience with COVID-19 publicly. She was a conventionally healthy woman in her 40s who competed in triathlons. She was bedridden for over a month and would wake up in the night unable to breathe. Not just immunocompromised people are struggling with the effects of this virus. In some cities that have had major outbreaks, hospitals have exceeded capacity in their ICUs, PPE supplies have run out and morgues have been so full that they have had to utilize freezer trucks to store the bodies of those that have died.
Right now, some people are falsely claiming that only 6% of reported deaths are really because of COVID-19. It is just one of many claims that have circulated about COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. This is due to a misinterpreted CDC report that said only 6% of deaths were reported in individuals with no comorbidities. Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have denounced the claim. Let me ask you this. What if you had a slight limp that made you slower and less agile than normal, and one day you got hit and killed by a bus. What killed you — the limp, or the bus?
Not getting tested in order to avoid quarantine is completely unethical. If you have the symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who does, you are putting others at risk by not getting tested. I personally believe we should have initially set up a testing program in which all students, faculty and staff would be tested weekly. However, what matters most is that we keep our community safe by taking advantage of Harding’s screening form and the testing sites around Searcy.
In the case of COVID-19, ignorance is not bliss. This is a pandemic not just of COVID-19 — it is a pandemic of misinformation. I know it is difficult to find good, evidence-based information on SARS-CoV-2, but we need to try. There are many good resources. You can start with the CDC and Arkansas Department of Health. You can go to trusted news sources, not those on Twitter or Facebook. If you want good, in-depth coverage of the pandemic from the point of view of virologists, go to “This Week in Virology” (TWiV). TWiV is a podcast where virologists, immunologists and guest speakers of all backgrounds talk about testing, vaccines, current events and general COVID-19 information. If you want any sources or evidence for anything I have shared in this article, contact me anytime.
In order to get through this, we all need to get tested when necessary, follow Harding’s guidelines and listen to science.