Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 wants to make sure as the coronavirus spreads, you're getting accurate information to better protect you and your family. As the coronavirus continues to spread, so does misinformation about the virus. FOX13 is separating fact from fiction.

Scammers are trying to use the coronavirus to scam people. In one scam, someone calls and tells you your student loans are eligible for immediate relief. Of course, you have to provide personal information first. Another scam on Facebook claims someone qualifies for a grant of up to $300,000 but only if you pay an upfront fee. There two text message scams that ask for your personal information. One promises $50,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the other will supposedly give you your stimulus money now. Don’t fall for these. They are all are scams.

Email and social media scams often have official logos and letterheads and at first glance, you’d think they are from a government office. Keep these simple rules in mind. First, the government already has your personal information to get your stimulus money to you. They would never need you to verify that information over the phone or otherwise. Second, the checks haven’t been mailed yet. Anyone who says they can ‘expedite’ your payment is a scammer. So with those things in mind, never ever share your social security number, birth date, or bank account information with anyone you don’t know. Use common sense to protect your money.

A common misconception is that we can only catch the virus from direct contact with an infected person. But early on, the CDC found that the virus can live for hours or even days on surfaces. That study was done on hard plastics, cardboard, and metal. Scientists do believe the virus can also live for some amount of time on fabrics. So their advice is to wipe or spray down things before entering your home if you’ve been in public and not socially distancing. As for your clothes, if you’ve been around people other than your immediate family, say for a grocery store run, you should strongly consider changing and then washing those clothes.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed an executive order requiring Tennesseans to stay home unless they are carrying out essential activities. Does this new order mean we can’t go outside to exercise or even for a walk? We are allowed to be outside of our homes. In our yards. Out for a walk or a run. This is not a lock-down. Being outside for the purpose of exercise or fresh air or work around your home is considered an essential activity, but you must maintain social distance from your friends and neighbors. That’s no longer a suggestion. It’s now a mandate. We are also allowed to go get food, whether that be curbside pick up from a restaurant or home delivery. That too is on the essentials list.

One question we continually get is concerning the COVID-19 stimulus package. We know a family will receive money for each dependent child, but what if you take care of a dependent relative like a parent or grandparent? Do people get money if they are caring for a relative? The simple answer is no. Let’s look at a family of four as an example. The coronavirus stimulus package will married couples earning less than $150,000 dollars gets $1200 dollars per adult. That same couple will receive $500 for each of their two dependent children. But elderly or disabled adults, no matter their relation living in that household, would not receive any of the stimulus money. Also left out, many college-aged people who are seen by the IRS as adult-dependents of their parents.

RELATED: Social Security recipients will receive stimulus payments, do not have to file tax return, officials say

We are allowed some travel which is outlined as essential in the order signed Thursday by Governor Lee. On the essential list you are allowed to travel and be in the company of close friends and relatives as long as you are following the guidelines which means no gatherings larger than 10 and you must maintain social distance between yourself and other people outside of your group. What about churches? You can go to your church. But again. No groups larger than 10. And you must stay 6 feet apart. The biggest take away from the safer at home rule was a recommendation for us to stay out of groups and keep a safe distance. The stay at home rule is an order to do that. Use common sense and follow the guidelines.

Mississippi’s shelter in place will begin on Friday. The state of Tennessee went under a 'Safe at Home’ order Wednesday, and Arkansas does not have anything similar in place right now. Many have wondered why the President hasn’t issued a national ‘Stay at Home’ order. The U.S. Constitution clearly states that the federal government is not allowed to issue quarantine orders on a nation-wide basis. Each state is responsible for those orders inside its own borders. What the federal government can do is quarantine international travelers or other people traveling state to state who might carry any deadly disease. But no branch of the federal government is allowed to mandate a nation-wide quarantine and if it did, that kind of order would almost certainly be challenged in court.

Liquor stores are not closed down as a result of stay at home orders. You’ll remember last week when the orders were first announced, liquor stores were on the “essential businesses” list and allowed to stay open. Most stores are allowing curb-side pick up only at this time. Business has been pretty steady from what we’ve seen, with people waiting in car lines to get their orders. It’s likely the rumor of closures was started on social media as an April Fool’s joke. Some stores have adjusted their hours of operation, but now, liquor stores are not closed because of COVID-19.

A big concern for a lot of people is how their sick time might be used if they do start to show symptoms of coronavirus. There are new rights every employee should know about. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act went into effect Wednesday. It requires some employers to give their employees paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. The new rules also give businesses with fewer than 500 employees the money to give their employees that paid time off. The act gives those employees two weeks of paid time off if they or a close family member is diagnosed with coronavirus. There is even a provision for up to 10 weeks off to take care of a child who’s school or daycare is closed.


Is it safe to wear eye contacts while the virus continues to spread?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, guarding your eyes, as well as your hands and mouth can slow the spread of coronavirus. You can become infected by touching something that has the virus on it, like a table or doorknob then touch your eyes. Limiting your eye exposure can help. Contact lenses wearers touch their eyes more than the average person. If you wear contact lenses, switch to glasses for a while. If you do choose to wear your contacts, it’s imperative that you wash your hands thoroughly and follow proper guidelines contacts.

Holding your breath is not a “simple self-check” for the coronavirus. According to the World Health Organization, being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or discomfort does not mean you are free from COVID-19 or any other lung disease. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have COVID-19 is with a laboratory test. You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

Can the virus that causes COVID-19 spread through food?

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread through person-to-person contact through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food it’s important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Also, many of us may be ordering take out from restaurants that are closed due to the coronavirus. The health department said there is no evidence that getting take out or drive through food will increase your chances of getting the coronavirus. Tennessee Department of Health said it safe because you are practicing social distancing.