Guest Editorial by the American College of Emergency Physicians
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) cautions everyone to be wary of unsourced information or opinion masquerading as public health advice during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
ACEP urges the public to be circumspect of bold claims or instant cures made on social media or circulating among friends. Instead, seek information supported by data and endorsed by leading health and medical expert entities like ACEP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or others.
“A troubling number of purported experts are sharing false and dangerous information that runs counter to the public health and safety guidelines endorsed by ACEP and the nation’s leading medical and public health entities,” said William Jaquis, M.D., FACEP, president of ACEP. “This kind of misinformation can not only be harmful to individuals, but it hinders our nation’s efforts to get the pandemic under control.”
There is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Researchers and scientists are continuously learning more about the virus and how to treat it, and their expert guidance is updated accordingly. Anyone can spread COVID-19, even those who do not suspect they are infected. The CDC states 40% of positive cases occur with people who show no symptoms (asymptomatic), but can still spread the virus. That does not mean the virus is “harmless.” The long-term effects of carrying the virus are still being studied.
Meanwhile, cases are surging in most states and tests are in short supply as demands on hospital beds and resources approach or exceed capacity. Whether your community is experiencing a surge or not, you can be assured the emergency department is the best place to be if you think you are having a medical emergency. Emergency physicians are ready and able to care for you anytime and are specially trained to keep you safe even in the midst of a pandemic.
Information evolves and sound scientific reasoning can change as new information comes to light. As you consult with your health care provider or local health authorities, look for information backed by data and supported by consensus. Heeding unsubstantiated advice opens you to avoidable health risks.
Without a cure, smart personal choices and safe behaviors are the best defense against spreading COVID-19 and overwhelming our health care system.
“There are still many questions about COVID-19, but we know these three simple steps offer the best protection that we have until a vaccine is developed: cover your face, wash your hands frequently and practice social distancing,” Jaquis said.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 39,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million Americans they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org.