COVID-19 Update: Combatting Misinformation Surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic

I never imagined that when I left home for spring break I would be saying “goodbye” to one of my best semesters yet and saying “hello” to online courses and social isolation. I write this article as a pre-med student who understands the need for social distancing amidst this public health crisis, but also as someone who wants nothing more than to see everything go back to normal so she can continue to have a great college experience. Hopefully, reading this article will help combat some of the misinformation which has been spreading surrounding the global Coronavirus pandemic and update you all on developments regarding this concerning situation. You can also read my previous article on Coronavirus here!

  1. 1. COVID-19 is now a Global Pandemic, and POTUS has declared a state of National Emergency.

    Coronavirus

    As I’m sure we all know by now, as of March 11, 2020, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been characterized as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Following this assessment, President Trump issued a proclamation, which declared that America is officially in a state of national emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects “widespread transmission of COVID-19” to occur in the United States. The CDC presumes that most of the American population will be exposed to COVID-19 within the next few months, as there is still no vaccine or treatment for this disease. 

    I know this information is really scary and difficult to process, but the silver lining is that there are CDC precautions we can take to try to slow down COVID-19 infection (notice I didn’t say prevent infection entirely). The reality of the situation is that it will take months to develop vaccines and find a cure for COVID-19, which means that if people go about their daily lives as per usual, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed, which could lead us into a situation similar to what Italy is facing. Apart from China, Italy has had the largest number of deaths due to COVID-19, which is in part due to the fact that Italy has the oldest population in Europe, but also because the infection rate increased exponentially without proper social distancing practices. 

  2. 2. Social Distancing is a must

    This is not a mere suggestion, but rather a necessity, and I believe that we are all morally obligated to avoid spreading COVID-19. Spread of infection can be slowed if people practice “social distancing,” which involves an increase in physical space between individuals in order to reduce the chances of the infection spreading. VCU has already employed such practices by switching to online/virtual classes, but there are still other things we can do in order to limit the spread of infection such as working from home (if possible), using electronic devices/applications to talk with people rather than meeting up in person, canceling group events, and of course, washing our hands properly and regularly. 

    For a more visual understanding of how social distancing practices can limit opportunities for infection to spread, click here!

  3. 3. There is a lot of misinformation being spread about COVID-19.

    News magazine covers on a rack, including Time and The Economist

    While scrolling through different social media platforms I felt like there were so many articles and posts claiming to have new information about COVID-19. The biggest thing to remember before stressing out and sharing misinformation is that we should be consulting trustworthy sources such as the CDC and WHO, which are organizations created to handle these particular types of situations. In order to learn about COVID-19 and current efforts to combat it, consider referring to these links: 

    CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak Website

    WHO Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak Website

Hopefully, this article has cleared up some doubts regarding recent COVID-19 developments! Let’s all remember to practice social distancing, proper handwashing techniques, and refer to reputable sources such as the CDC and WHO in the midst of this health crisis! Stay safe, Rams!