Fighting Coronavirus Confusion

This is a cross-post of my latest mass email. Many people have written me back to say how useful it was, so I’m publishing it here. Sign up at

One of the multiple emails I got in response.
The latest Coronavirus, COVID-19

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while, but with Coronavirus on the tip of everyone’s tongue it’s critical to cut through the myths and rumors to ensure that people have the right information. In the past week I have seen a tremendous amount of misinformation permeating social media. Rumors that can inspire fear, and rumors which, if followed, can lead to getting people hurt.

Sadly, Rumors make it so much harder for people to find and trust information that is true. Before sharing things you hear, please check for a verified source.

So here is a debunking of myths, important information on how to stay safe, and a little bit about what’s happening in the world right now. Most of these are taken from my Facebook Page and Twitter accounts where I post regular updates.

Five Coronavirus Myths vs. Truth

1. Tests
Holding your breath is NOT a test for Coronavirus. That’s why a shortage of testing kits is a problem. If you find that you have trouble breathing, though, that is a problem you should look into.

2. Prevention
You CANNOT cure or prevent Coronavirus by drinking water (hot or otherwise) and staying hydrated. Being hydrated is always healthy. THE ONLY EFFECTIVE measures against the virus are:

  • washing your hands for 20s with soap and water
  • sanitizing surfaces in your home
  • not touching your face (watch out for brushing your hair away)
  • social distancing

3. Sanitizing
You DO NOT need hand sanitizer or “disinfecting wipes.” Hand sanitizer is useful when you can’t wash your hands, and you need to disinfect things, but you do not need to panic if you can’t get those two items because:

  • Washing your hands with soap is more effective
  • ALL soaps work — you don’t need hand soap, you don’t need antibacterial soap (this is a virus, not bacteria)
  • Bleach, hydrogen peroxide and alcohol mixed with water are all good surface disinfectants, check online for proportions.
  • If you use hand sanitizer, CONTACT TIME MATTERS. Use enough to expose your skin while rubbing for 30 seconds. If you feel it’s already dry after 10 seconds, you didn’t add enough.
  • Remember to disinfect the most touched items in your house — including the most touched item of all, your MOBILE PHONES.

4. Creating your own sanitizer

  • Do not try to make your own hand sanitizer, use soap and water. For surfaces…
  • Using Bleach: 1/3 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water. Or, 4 teaspoons of bleach per 1 quarter of water.
  • Ethanol (and ONLY ETHANOL) = at least 70% concentration.
  • The effective range is 65–80% but not more above or below. If it’s too high, the bacteria/viruses are just stuck in solution and not “killed”. If it’s too low, nothing really happens.

5. Face Masks
Don’t use face masks unless YOU’RE sick. Most don’t filter viral particles in the air, rather they’re good for preventing large droplets from breaking up as they leave your mouth. If you’re not sick they get dirty, giving germs a place to grow.

What to do if you get Coronavirus

UPDATE: DO NOT TAKE IBUBROFEN (ADVIL, ALEEVE). This has been flagged as potentially complicating with coronavirus. Only use acetaminophen (Tylenol, paracetamol).

You may get coronavirus. Here’s what to do and how to stock up (it’s really nothing special unless you have a complicating condition):

First, you can prepare a bit by:

  1. Stocking up on kleenex, Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 350mg, Mucinex (expectorant) and your favorite cough medicine
  2. If you have a humidifier, whip it out. You can always do a steamy shower in a pinch.
  3. Make some food and freeze it, cooking while you’re sick is a pain.
  4. If you have asthma and use an inhaler, make sure you have a an unexpired one.

Coronavirus is like a bad respiratory disease — like bronchitis or pneumonia. To deal with it:

  1. If you have a fever, take Acetaminophen every 6 hours
  2. Take your cough suppressant
  3. Drink water and hydrate
  4. Rest
  5. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOUSE except for medical care. If you have to leave, wear a mask (N95 not required, normal will do)
  6. AVOID THE HOSPITAL unless you have trouble breathing or your fever doesn’t go away with the medicine. There’s no cure for the virus, hospitals are providing ventilators and care for people in critical condition. If you don’t need that, please free up the space for others who do. The greatest problem with COVID-19 is it’s overloading our health system with critical cases.
  7. If you have a lung condition, talk to your Primary Care Physician. Make a plan. They may be able to have you bypass the ER.
  8. FOR CHILDREN — no person under 18 has had a bad case unless they had a preexisting lung condition. Just use child doses for the medicines mentioned.

These tips are from a great nurse whose online posts are private so I copied them all.


Gatherings over 500 banned in NY State
The Governor has banned all gatherings of 500 or more in New York State. He has also slashed the maximum occupancy of all establishments operating at under 500 in half.

New Rochelle has also been designated an containment area with tighter restrictions on gatherings; small businesses are allowed to operate and people can enter and leave the zone. The city will also receive New York’s first drive through testing center.

There is NO Lockdown of New York City
Contrary to popular social media claims, there is no lockdown of NYC coming. Mass transit will continue to operate as usual and free movement of people is allowed. The Governor and Mayor have been transparent in their plans and have no incentive to incite mass panic by dropping a secret quarantine order on the largest city in America. Regular shipments of goods will continue so, while there is a shortage of toilet paper because people seem obsessed with hoarding it, supply lines for food other necessities continued unhindered.

Schools Remain Open, People Are Petitioning
As of this email, schools remain open despite calls for the Mayor to shut them down. Unfortunately, many children rely on public schools for many of their meals.

It’s also petitioning season. Despite calls to lower the signature requirements, the State has not yet done so. As a result, people continue to collect on the streets. If you see someone petitioning, please sign — they need your help. BUT, do not share pens and/or clipboards unless there is hand sanitizer available.


Elections Are Being Postponed Because of Coronavirus
In response to Coronavirus, Louisiana has delayed its primary by several months. London has put off its city elections for a year. There is a tremendous risk that the global pandemic will be used as cover to increase power for those who have it and deteriorate — intentionally or not — the regular functioning of our democracy.

In the midst of this, it’s time to seriously consider what length of postponement is acceptable for elections. Are a few months a problem? Certainly, London’s one year extension for those in power is insane.

Ultimately postponing an election is defensible if:

1. The election will still take place before new officials are scheduled to take office (e.g., the Presidential election is in November but the new President takes power in January. It could be moved to December without threatening the democracy, though it would be bad for governance).

2. The delay has a reasonable expectation of avoiding or mitigating the State of emergency. Even if Coronavirus is worse in June, Louisiana will have had more than enough time to come up with a plan for safe voting. No excuses.

With tools like vote by mail, there should be no reason our democracies cannot function properly, even through a time of crisis. In fact, it’s during a crisis, more than ever, that we need the ability to hold our leaders accountable.

Oil Industry Faces Crisis
Almost entirely lost in the pandemic is the fact that oil prices have tumbled across the globe, putting Western producers who rely on shale in dire straits. As economic activity has slowed, especially in China, demand for oil has dropped tremendously. OPEC sought to prop up prices by limiting supply, but Russia refused to curtail production. In response, OPEC and Russia have engaged in a price war, each flooding the market to punish the other and drive competition out of the market.

American oil producers are caught in the middle. Particularly because many are extremely overleveraged, taking on massive amounts of debt to fuel expansion and using oil deposits (whose value is now diminished) as collateral. Several stand to go bankrupt creating employment ripples through an already weakened economy. These being major corporations, though, the Trump administration has, of course, been working furiously on a bailout. The only plus side is gas is ridiculously cheap. But who’s driving anywhere?

Fed injects $1.5T to Ensure Market Liquidity
In one of the most misunderstood Coronavirus stories, the Fed has pledged to inject $1.5T into the financial system in an attempt to stabilize markets.

Though a lot has been said of the Fed instantly creating enough money to fund, say, medicare for all, that’s not quite how its market interventions work.

Every day, banks swap cash with each other to settle their end of day accounts. This is because the amount of money they have on hand fluctuates with how much they’re transacting. For example, if you keep your money in a bank and then buy something, they send that money out. As a result, their reserve of cash goes down. To stay in compliance with the law, banks are forced to hold a certain amount of cash on hand. With thousands or millions of transactions, banks often need to top-up at the end of the day to make things balance, knowing that money from other places is currently en route to them. To achieve that balance, banks borrow from each other.

The interest rates in that bank-to-bank loan market is LOW. That’s because they are extremely short term loans, maybe 24 hours. The money borrowed is basically paid back the next day. Very low risk. If there’s a lot of volatility (a lot of people moving their money around from their banks in a short time frame), though, the odds a bank won’t be able to pay back in the short term go up. That means bank-to-bank interest rates go up, shunting money stops and now you’ve got banks that can’t move money so they…you know, 2008 it up.

To keep that market between banks at a very, very low interest rate, the Fed is injecting cash by buying up short term instruments.Those instruments themselves basically need to be bought back by the bank the next day. Essentially, the Fed is saying “if you can’t get a low low rate from another bank, we are the lender of last resort. You can have a low low SHORT TERM cash infusion from us. Pay us tomorrow.”

It all works to keep the financial sector from collapsing, and banks in business, by providing taxpayer funded health insurance for their short-term balance sheets. Think of it as a free nurse visit from the government, complete with a prescription drug delivery of greenbacks. Wouldn’t it be nice if consumers had access to a service like that, instead of putting their emergencies on credit cards charging 15%.

Spain Locks Down Entire Country
The title says it all. It’s a good thing — Spain is taking its fight against Coronavirus seriously.

Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma Donates 500K Test Kits and 1M Masks to U.S.
The founder of Alibaba, China’s Amazon, has pledged to help the U.S. ramp up its efforts to deal with Coronavirus with a donation of 500,000 new testing kits (the U.S. has been notoriously slow on getting them out) and 1 Million new masks.

Stay safe out there,


Speaker/educator on politics & effective change. @manhattandems Secretary. @nydems Committeeman, 66AD. “Traveling civics superhero”.

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