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Newell: The Doctor is in! Let's bust some coronavirus myths

Not everything you see on Facebook is true - be smart!

Newell Normand
March 26, 2020 - 4:45 pm

Our social networks are running wild with urban myths about the coronavirus and what might make it go away. Some people have even tragically died after ingesting compounds and chemicals they are hearing bandied about on Facebook and Twitter, while others are hoarding legitimate medications meant for sufferers of non-coronavirus-related illnesses. At times like these, it’s crucial to be a good gatekeeper of information, and trust only what you hear from qualified experts. In that vein, Newell invited Dr. Meredith Maxwell onto the program Thursday morning to dispel myths and answer questions about coronavirus and COVID-19. Maxwell is a Primary Care Physician at Touro Hospital.

“So this is referred to as a ‘novel’ coronavirus,” Newell began. “It’s called that because it’s new, but coronaviruses have been around for a while, right?”

“Correct! There’s all kinds of coronaviruses that are not novel,” Maxwell said. “But our bodies haven’t seen this one before so we don’t have immunity. Other coronaviruses we know something about, but we aren’t sure yet how alike they are to this novel one. We’re learning new things every day.”

“What’s the primary way that we are actually infecting one another?” Newell asked.

“Viruses can spread through droplets of saliva, or discharge of the nose... When an infected person coughs or sneezes, or you kiss them, or they sneeze on something that you touch, then you can transfer that through your mucus membranes to yourself. That’s why we talk so much about washing your hands, wiping down surfaces, coughing in your elbow instead of your hand, trying not to touch your face.”

“Even just talking, your body is expressing respiratory particles,” Newell continued. “And those can remain alive and well in the atmosphere for 2-3 hours… is that true?”

“Yes, just by talking, you can deliver respiratory particles. That’s why we have the 6 feet social distancing rule, so you can limit that transfer,” Maxwell said.

 “One thing I’ve been seeing a lot is this notion that it’s better to take Tylenol as opposed to Advil, acetaminophen as opposed to ibuprofen, because it’s an NSAID, and there’s something that goes on there with the respiratory system. Can you explain that for us?” Newell asked.

“There is a myth that ibuprofen can worsen the effects of COVID-19, but based on currently available information, the World Health Organization does not recommend against its use,” Maxwell answered. “Myself, if I had to choose between Tylenol and ibuprofen, but there’s no good studies out there yet that say it is not safe to use ibuprofen.”

“Early on in this, we talked a lot about how environmental temperatures can help flatten the curve,” Newell said. “A lot of people don’t realize that in the Northern Hemisphere, while we’re having winter, the Southern Hemisphere has their summer. There was an outbreak there during their hot summer months, and the virus was as strong as ever!”

“Some people are saying the virus will be halted once temperatures rise in the spring,” Maxwell explained, “And some viruses such as the cold and flu spread more easily in the colder months, but it doesn’t mean that once it gets hot it’s just going to go away. At present, I don’t think scientists and researches will actually know what’s going to happen with the temperature change and the influence on the behavior of COVID-19. I think they’re hopeful, but they don’t know yet. Same with taking a hot bath - that’s not going to prevent you from catching this. Again, washing your hands and avoiding touching your mouth, eyes and nose is the most effective preventive measure.”

Hear the entire interview, including caller questions, click here or listen in the audio player below.


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