US official falsely claims coronavirus cured by blowdryer up the nose

Florida County Commissioner apologises after spreading pandemic myth

Jean Lee
New York
Wednesday 25 March 2020 21:21 GMT
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A medical biologist handles a swab to test a patient for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the Covid-19 disease, at a drive-through facility
A medical biologist handles a swab to test a patient for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the Covid-19 disease, at a drive-through facility (EPA)

A Florida official has apologised for claiming that using a blow dryer up the nose cures Covid-19 after the suggestion was caught on video and shared on Facebook.

Okeechobee County Commissioner Bryan Culpepper made this claim in a March 20 emergency meeting to address the pandemic. He suggested that the virus could not live at temperatures higher than 136 degrees, and said that he heard the information from one of the "foremost doctors that has studied the coronavirus," who appeared on a One America News Network program.

A press release from One America News Network denies that they were the source of this information.

"One America News has done a thorough review of all on-air, social media, and website content," the company stated. "We have also asked staff to track down any possible association between the statements made by the official and One America News Network. We are unable to find any association between the statements made by the municipal official and One America News Network."

The World Health Organisation's "myth busters" webpage denies the suggestion that the virus dies in hot climates, saying that "from the evidence so far, the Covid-19 virus can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather." The page also debunks the idea that hand dryers can kill the Covid-19 virus. It says that "to protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water."

The Center for Disease Control offers similar advice, saying everyone should frequently wash their hands, stay home when they are sick, and "avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands."

Health experts have pushed preventative measures to "flatten the curve," a term that means slowing the spread of the virus so that there are fewer cases at any given time so that hospitals aren't overburdened.

In the US, there are fewer than 100,000 ICU beds, according to a Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security analysis. The centre suggested that hospitals convert 30 percent of beds to Covid-19 patients. It also recommended converting lobby waiting room and expediting discharges.

The American Hospital Association estimates that 960,000 people will need ventilators to help with breathing over the course of the pandemic. The New York Times reported that the US only has about 160,000 ventilators with 12,700 in a National Strategic Stockpile for national emergencies.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci has also pushed measures that prevent and reduce cases.

“I served six presidents and I have never done anything other than tell the exact scientific evidence and made policy recommendations based on the science and the evidence,” Dr Fauci said in a House Oversight and Reform committee meeting.

Mr Culpepper backtracked on his advice to combat the Covid-19 virus.

"I was only trying to give comfort to those in Okeechobee who have no insurance to treat there families,” he wrote. “I will not offer anymore suggestions unless they are tried and proven.”

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