Coronavirus: facts vs. myths

MEDFORD, Ore. — Information about the novel coronavirus is spreading daily making it hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

NBC5 News spoke with Jackson County Health Officer Dr. Jim Shames to break things down.

Dr. Shames says if you’re not sick, there’s no need to wear a face mask. He says you should be saving N-95 masks for health care workers or someone who’s contagious.

Currently, the virus is believed to be spread through droplets. He says it’s good to stay 3 feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing and avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.

Dr. Shames says washing your hands is still the best way to prevent catching the virus, although hand sanitizer can help.

Compared to the seasonal flu, Dr. Shames says there is no vaccine for the coronavirus and it’s deadlier than influenza.

He says the seasonal flu has a .1 percent mortality rate killing 1 out of a thousand people. The coronavirus has a 2 percent mortality rate, which is 20 times more fatal than the influenza virus.

However, the deadliness of the virus depends on your age or if you have underlying health conditions.

“The mortality for children and young adults is probably about the same as seasonal flu,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Health Officer for Jackson Co. “But the mortality for folks over 80, is about 15 percent. That’s very high.”

Dr. Shames believes the mortality rate of the virus will go down in the coming months. He says that’s because we will have a bigger pool of people to test and more awareness of people who have the virus.

Dr. Shames says health care professionals suspect 80 percent of people who have the virus have mild symptoms. So, it’s possible people in southern Oregon have the virus right now and don’t even know it.

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