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VERIFY: Looking into some claims online about the coronavirus

With help of the Verify Team, we looked into some claims about the coronavirus going around online.

AUSTIN, Texas — Fears of the coronavirus led to another rough day for the stock market as the Dow fell another 1,200 points on Thursday.

But Gov. Greg Abbott is reassuring Texans the state is ready to deal with a potential outbreak. The state's Medical Operations Center has been active since Jan. 31 to prepare, among other things. 

According to Nancy Knight, the director of the Division of Global Health Protection with the CDC, there are 10 people who have tested positive in Texas. Two of them are from Wuhan cohorts, and eight were from the Diamond Princess cruise.

All individuals who have tested positive are being treated by the CDC in isolation off of the base. The rest of the individuals are unsymptomatic and being held under quarantine on the base.

There are a lot of claims about coronavirus going around online, so we decided to take a look at a few to see what's fact. 

First, there was an infographic going around, shared by local news outlets, with headlines or captions saying the CDC said to shave your beard in order to reduce the risk of infection from the coronavirus. 

Credit: CDC

Our Verify team found that the picture was actually from a 2017 CDC blog post in response to No Shave November. It has no relation to the coronavirus and was supposed to target people who have to wear tight-fitting respirators at work. 

Next, a 40-second video clip showed how coronavirus compares to illnesses – but the whole video is not being not shown. 

The clip does indeed use accurate data to show the spread of the viruses like Ebola, SARS, swine flu and MERS over time. 

But the clip is actually a 10-minute video on YouTube. The Twitter video cuts off at day 42, which shows coronavirus far ahead of the other illnesses. If you play the full clip, swine flu takes the lead eventually, reaching up to 60 million people infected.

Overall, the video shows the coronavirus is infecting more people at a faster rate than any of the other viruses, but it's missing important context. 

The coronavirus has the second-lowest fatality rate; only the swine flu had a lower rate, while the others were much more deadly. 

Earlier this month, KVUE reported stores in Austin are selling out of masks because of fear of the coronavirus. People were flocking to stores to protect themselves with masks, but the Austin-Travis County Infection Preventionist said a mask won't make a difference for people who are not sick.  

"The mask should be worn by the person who would be having some type of discharge from their nose or mouth. Even with the mask on, there are still potential areas where they will be able to suck in the particles and air from around the person who is coughing and sneezing," said Bill Coll, Austin-Travis County's Infection Preventionist. "It doesn't directly protect you from the coronavirus if you are not sick."

Coll also said it's best to use good hygiene and to be aware of how close you are to others. 

We know a lot of people are worried about the coronavirus, so if you see any more claims about it online, send them our way to verify@kvue.com.


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