UT doctor says misinformation is hurting efforts to slow COVID-19

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s something many of us have seen throughout the course of the pandemic, videos and articles on social media claiming to have groundbreaking information about the coronavirus. With some of those sources containing questionable information, it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction.

“Go to trusted sources, first and foremost,” University of Tennessee Medical Center Epidemiologist and Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Mark Rasnake said. “Talk to your own personal physician; talk to public health leaders in your community.”

Rasnake also encouraged people to trust government organizations, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Drug Administration, and the American Medical Association.

He also said there are some independent groups doing fact-checking for information posted to the internet.

“For those who might not, for whatever reason, trust an official government source, there’s a lot of independent agencies out there,” he said. “Snopes for instance, people that are independent of any sort of agency that will break down some of these false claims and give people better information.”

Rasnake went over some of the claims he’s seen shared no social media.

“The mask-wearing does help,” he said. “Masks do not stop every particle, but they decrease them quite a bit, so the claim that was made on the video is that nothing stops a tiny particle, it does.”

He also talked about myths surrounding the vaccine.

“The case that having a vaccine makes you more likely to get sick from coronavirus, that’s an outrageously dangerous claim for any physician to have made.”

Rasnake also spoke about the current situation at UT Medical Center.

“I look at the statistics here in at the hospital right now, 95% of our hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, 100% of our patients on the ventilators today are unvaccinated,” he said. “The first week of July, I could count all of the COVID patients in the hospital on one hand. It has now jumped up to greater than 60 patients.”

State Sen. Richard Biggs agreed, while it can be difficult, fact checking your sources is important.

“It’s very, very difficult in the world that we live in today to sort out the bad from the good,” Dr. Briggs said.

Briggs also said it’s everyone’s own choice if they want the vaccine or not, but encourages people to base their decision on facts.

“Now after you get the information, if you decide that it’s not for you than that’s good cause you basing your decision on accurate information,” he said.

Both doctors expressed they feel the vaccine is the best line of defense from contracting the virus and turning this pandemic into a distant memory.

“This is something that’s come into our country, let’s use our weapons to fight it, and the most incredible weapon that we have is this vaccine,” Briggs said.

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