MISSOULA — Missoula health officials are urging people to only follow the best "research-based" information during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and are cautioning people to not fall for some of the "wild speculation" that's online.
Every time you check your newsfeed over the past week you'll run into numerous stories claiming "researchers" have found new ways that the coronavirus is spreading. One alarming one over the weekend suggested the virus may be spreading through pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic means, in other words before someone has symptoms, or isn't showing symptoms.
"Most of what I've seen personally has been in the media and is not back up by research. So that is the one thing that I caution people, is that you know, there are wild speculations in the media right now about how this is spread, what the mortality rate is going to be, who it's going to affect," Cindy Farr with the Missoula City-County Health Department said. "And I would just caution people about believing everything that you're reading or hearing right now."
Farr noted that the current direction from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains the same. The coronavirus spread demands the same precautions we should already be using during the flu and cold season.
"Very much like flu. When people are coughing or sneezing the droplets go out into the air. They land on surfaces, they land on other people around you. Which is why we are practicing social distancing," Farr said. "None of us are ill. But we need to get used to having that space between each other."
Additionally, regular cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, avoiding large gatherings, staying home where possible and especially keeping older Montanans and those with chronic respiratory problems out of harm's way.
"We know that the public is getting good, research-based data. And if we don't know, we have no problem saying we don't know," Farr explained. "But I would just caution the public to be aware of what you're reading and make sure that it's actually based on research and evidence and is not just wild speculations. Because there's a lot of that out there right now."
The Missoula City-County Health Department has set up a hotline for people to call if you have questions or concerns about coronavirus. The number is (406) 258-INFO and is available Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.