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Coronavirus Myths And Truths

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - There's confusion, misinformation, and myths about the coronavirus.

How long does the virus live on surfaces? Can pets be carriers? Are children immune and is it as deadly as some people say?

The coronavirus is a brand new germ, and so we are still learning about it literally on a daily basis, reported CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez. But when there's a lack of information, myths and rumors fill the void.

So here's the real deal, beginning with the best way to prevent infecting yourself.

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One of the best ways to not get infected is to not touch your face.

"If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your face, that's a great route for the virus to get into your nose, eyes and mouth," said Dr. Vanessa Raabe, an infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Raabe acknowledges that not touching your face is really hard. Some studies say we touch our faces and average of 1,000-2,000 times a day. And you don't have to search very hard on the Internet to find people talking about how hard it is to avoid touching your face.

Now for some coronavirus myths, like the family pet can carry the virus. That's false.

"There's no evidence that cats or dogs carry the virus. Viruses keep to their own species," Dr. Raabe said.


Another myth: Children are immune to the coronavirus. False again.

"Children can get the virus but they don't seem to get as sick as adults," Dr. Raabe said.

So can the virus survive for a few days on surfaces? That's probably true, but it depends on the surface, the temperature and the moisture. The good news is that coronavirus can easily be killed with household disinfectants.

Perhaps the scariest myth of all is if you get the virus you will probably die. That's absolutely false.

"Eighty percent of people who get it have a mild disease that gets better on its own. The mortality rate is now probably around one percent," Dr. Raabe said.

The actual death rate has now settled at around 1%, somewhat worse than the flu, but nowhere near what SARS, MERS, ebola and other emerging diseases are.

You may have heard of the "six foot rule" to avoid getting infected. That's because the way a person spreads the virus is by coughing or sneezing virus-laden particles out in the air. Those droplets are fairly heavy and fall to the ground in about six feet.

So if you're around a cougher or sneezer, keep that six foot social distance away from them, and don't shake their hand.


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