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Black People Are NOT Immune To Coronavirus: Debunking Deadly Social Media Myths

You've heard a lot of things. It's time to separate fact from fiction.

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ENGLEWOOD — With newly released data showing that 72 percent of COVID-19-related deaths in Chicago are African-American, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, city officials, and medical experts are working to ensure that Black Chicagoans get the necessary care and treatment they need.

But misinformation on social media makes it difficult for some residents to separate fact from fiction, Dr. Oluwatoyin Adeyemi said during a Monday news conference.

One rumor — saying Black people are immune to COVID-19 — was particularly harmful, Adeyemi said.

“That kind of misinformation allows some of the infection to lay ground in the community,” she said.

From a legendary Black producer going on Instagram Live to blame 5G towers, to your favorite uncle unironically sharing the latest COVID-19 conspiracy theory on Facebook, it may be hard to separate fact from fiction.

Next time you see this fake information posted online? Call it out. Report it to Twitter or Facebook if you can. And do not spread it around as fact.

Never fear, Block Club is here to help. Here’s what we DO know:

Black people are not immune to COVID-19. We should know this by now as we continue to watch infection rates (and death rates) rise. Contrary to what you may have heard, your melanin will not inoculate you. And no, gargling with salt water or vinegar won’t eliminate the virus. Neither will spraying yourself with alcohol or chlorine.

Medical racism still has an impact, even now. With numerous studies showing that racism in exam rooms and emergency rooms cuts across age and socioeconomic status, seeking diagnosis or treatment for COVID-19 may not be so easy for folks who don’t have access to reliable transportation or a personal doctor.

As Adeyemi, an infectious disease expert with Cook County Health, explained during the city’s daily COVID-19 briefing Monday, “They don’t have cars, so they can’t do drive-through testing. They don’t have primary physicians, they go to emergency rooms. They can’t practice social distancing. They have to use public transportation.”

COVID-19 is not “just like the flu.” Again, while the symptoms can be similar, the incubation period for the flu can range from one to four days but the incubation period for the coronavirus can run from one to 14 days. Also, COVID-19 is deadlier, with a higher mortality rate.

The virus is weatherproof. Cold weather? Warm weather? The ‘rona doesn’t care and is still transmittable from person to person, despite what some commentators may tell you.

Hydroxychloroquine cannot, in fact, kick COVID-19’s a–. Again, despite what some commentators and former reality tv show stars tell you, it’s still too soon to tell whether the drug used to treat malaria and lupus is strong enough to take down the virus. This particular bit of misinformation should trouble a lot of Black folks, as a considerable percentage of people afflicted by lupus are Black women, and more stories about patients either unable to get the drug they depend on for survival or health care providers canceling prescriptions outright enter the news cycle.

Never take any medication without consulting with a doctor. Ideally, over the phone or online.

Taking a bath will not kill the virus. As much as we love a good homeopathic remedy, neither a hot bath, nor a garlic-enhanced diet, nor raw onions in socks will cure you. Again, COVID-19 is a deadly virus, not a common cold. Please save your vegetables for a yummy soup recipe instead.

Healthy foods do boost immunity, but none are better than precautions the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations: stay home, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, cover your mouth with a cloth face mask when leaving the house, and practice social distancing.

Have you encountered other COVID-19 myths? Email me and we’ll fact check them! jamie [at] blockclubchi [dot] org.

For our full guide on symptoms, illness prevention and what to do if you are sick, click here.

For our Chicago resource guide which features unemployment advise, small business loan information and volunteer opportunities, click here.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
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