Myths About COVID-19

There are many myths and a great deal of misinformation on the internet about COVID-19.  Make sure you get your information from a trusted public health source such as VDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.  Here are some common myths that are making their rounds on the internet and social media. 

  • Garlic and onions:  Garlic and onions are healthy foods that may have some germ fighting abilities; however, there is no proof or evidence that eating them will protect you from or cure COVID-19. 


  • Pepper:  Pepper added to food does not protect you from or cure COVID-19.  Hot peppers might make your nose run so be sure to have tissues on hand when enjoying spicy food!


  • Ultraviolet light:  Ultraviolet (UV) light or lamps should not be used to disinfect your skin.  UV radiation can irritate or harm your skin and eyes.  If you need to clean up, wash your hands with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol or take a shower and put on clean clothes. 


  • Shoes:  The chance that COVID-19 could be spread by shoes is very low.  It’s a good idea to take shoes off at the door if there are young children crawling or playing on the floor.  This will keep dirt or germs from being brought into the house.  Because older people are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, many long-term care facilities (nursing homes and assisted living) are having people sanitize their shoes before entering as an extra safety measure.


  • Staying at home:  There is no evidence that staying at home more during the COVID-19 outbreak can weaken the immune system (the part of your body that fights off germs).  Our immune system is built up over many years and won’t suddenly stop working after a few months.  Staying at home and being isolated from others can impact our health in other ways.   Stress, depression, bad sleep patterns, lack of exercise, and eating unhealthy foods can all hurt the immune system.  Work on healthy habits such as getting enough rest, managing stress, staying connected to friends and family, eating a healthy diet and exercising.  Getting out into the fresh air can be good for both our bodies and our minds.


  • Household cleaners:  Drinking or breathing in household cleaners, bleach, or disinfectants will NOT work to prevent or kill the COVID-19 virus inside your body.  These chemicals can cause injuries or poison you.  Do not use these products on your skin.  Soap and water are all you need to safely clean your skin.


  • Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine:  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stopped its approval for the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for treating people with COVID-19.  Research studies did not show that they were helpful in treating COVID-19 and there have been a number of serious and long lasting side effects including heart damage from use of these drugs. 


  • Food:  There is no evidence that people can get COVID-19 from eating food.  You should not wash your food with bleach.  It could burn your mouth, throat or stomach and make you sick.


  • Disposable masks, cloth face coverings and your immune system: There is no scientific proof or evidence that wearing a disposable mask or cloth face covering can hurt your immune system.   Face coverings help limit the amount of respiratory droplets that go into the air to help stop the spread of COVID-19.  Doctors, nurses and other medical staff have been wearing face masks for decades.  Disposable masks should be thrown away if they become wet or dirty, and only used one time.   Cloth face coverings should be washed.  See Cloth Face Coves for more information.  


  • Disposable masks, cloth face coverings and oxygen levels:  There is no scientific proof or evidence that wearing a disposable mask or cloth face covering can hurt your oxygen levels or make you breathe in dangerous levels of carbon dioxide.  Unlike medical N-95 respirators, disposable masks and cloth face coverings fit more loosely and air can pass through. They help us by cutting down on the droplets that come out when we speak, cough or sneeze.  Face covers should not be worn when exercising, by children under two or anyone who has a health condition that makes it hard to breathe or take off their face cover without help.  There are some reports of health care workers being affected by wearing N-95 respirators for many hours; however, the public should not be using this type of face covering.  Wearing a face covering may feel weird or uncomfortable because we are not used to it and can be a challenge if its hot and humid or your glasses fog up.    If you are having a hard time breathing, your cloth face covering might be too thick.  See Cloth Face Covers for more information.


  • 5G Networks:  5G networks did not cause the COVID-19 pandemic.  Biological viruses cannot travel through radio waves or mobile networks.  This conspiracy theory was started through a uploaded internet video which was later proven to be false.  


  • Hot Weather:  Early on, some people thought that COVID-19 would go away when the weather got hot, like the flu does each year.  However, COVID-19 is not the flu and we now know that COVID-19 can be spread during hot and humid weather.  Cases of COVID-19 are going up in many of the hottest areas of the United States this summer.


  • Alcohol:  Drinking alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) will not protect you from getting COVID-19.  Drinking too much can lead to other health issues as well.  Spending time in bars can also be very risky because people are often in close contact for long periods of time.


For More Information:

  • Read VDH’s FAQs
  • Read CDC’s FAQs
  • Call VDH COVID-19 hotline at 877-ASK-VDH3



Page last reviewed: August 13, 2020