Rumor Review

Misleading video, false cures swirl around COVID-19

viral rumor about covid

NO: The man in the lead photo on this story from the “satirical news” website Viral Cocaine did not “drop dead” on the street in New York City’s borough of Queens. YES: The photos show a man who appears to have collapsed on the sidewalk in Flushing, Queens, on March 3. YES: He was wearing a surgical mask. NO: The incident was not related to COVID-19.

Note: Photos and videos of people who are unwell in public, along with speculation about COVID-19 as the cause, will almost certainly continue to circulate on social media. For example, a man passed out on a train platform in Brussels prompted several bystanders to shoot video of the incident and to speculate that the new strain of coronavirus was the cause.

False risks, false cures

NO: COVID-19 does not cause pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs). NO: Holding your breath for 10 seconds is not a reliable test for pulmonary fibrosis — or for COVID-19. YES: Drinking water is generally good for you, and proper hydration is important during treatment for any infection. NO: Frequently drinking water does not prevent infection from the current strain of coronavirus by washing the virus into your stomach.

viral rumor about covidNote: Like many viral rumors, this one includes a request to “send and share” this falsehood to “family, friends and everyone.” You should be skeptical of user-generated material that cites sources that are anonymous or unfamiliar, especially if it explicitly asks you to share it widely.

Also note: There are numerous “copy-and-paste” style viral rumors — many of them citing second- or third-hand advice from an authoritative source — circulating via social media, email and text message about the virus.

Also note: There are at least a dozen iterations of this “advice” circulating online, including one that says it is from an “internal message” to the “Stanford Hospital Board.” In a post on March 11, Stanford Health Care debunked this (scroll to the bottom of the webpage).