Discerning Fact from Fiction in the Face of COVID

“Your COVID-19 test is positive.” Despite my best efforts, I finally heard the words we all have dreaded in late December. When I went to CVS for a rapid test, I was a bit worried about my symptoms of a runny nose and dry cough, but they were mild enough that I wasn’t overly concerned – at first.

My positive test was followed by my husband’s positive test, and so we hunkered down, planning to quarantine for the first two weeks of January. It turned out to be a difficult month for us. Our symptoms got increasingly worse, and we both ended up in the Emergency Department – him for pneumonia, and me for the worst headache of my life. In both cases we were released the same day, which came as a huge relief. We are feeling better now, but we face the ongoing challenge of finding and following the most reliable, science-based guidance.  

As a communicator who has been guiding clients in their approach to COVID-19 communications for both internal and external audiences, I consider myself reasonably well informed and up to date when it comes to safe health practices during a pandemic. At the same time, like many Americans, I have been inundated with misinformation from sources that in some cases seem legitimate, and in many cases have been shared extensively over social media. Over the last year, I have waded through it all – and found the following sources to be reliably accurate.

Mayo Clinic

As the granddaughter of a Mayo Clinic physician, I’ve counted on their expertise my whole life. And when it comes to providing unbiased, helpful, accurate information on coronavirus, the Mayo Clinic website is one of my go-to resources. Whether I’m looking for facts about vaccine safety or for guidance on managing mental health during the pandemic, Mayo Clinic is a trusted, reliable resource.

In the Bubble Podcast

Health care expert Andy Slavitt took on the role of America’s “COVID dad,” shepherding us through the pandemic with information and advice from some of the top medical experts in the world. While he’s on a short assignment working as senior advisor to the White House COVID-19 response team, hosting duties have been taken up by Dr. Bob Wachter, Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. In the Bubble’s guests range from Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the CDC, to Dr. Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon and well-known thought leader. Every time I tune in, I learn something new.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins has a 120-year history responding to national health crises, dating back to yellow fever research in 1900 and the global flu pandemic in 1918 that took more than 650,000 American lives. Early in the pandemic, Johns Hopkins made a name for itself by launching a data-rich, U.S.-focused coronavirus tracking map, adding to its existing efforts that made the university a go-to global resource for tracking confirmed cases of COVID-19. They also developed the coronavirus resource center, a content-rich digital hub with updated information on number of cases, tracking, tracing, testing, and vaccines. They also livestream weekly 30-minute COVID-19 briefings, where they provide the latest insights about what we need to know about the pandemic and the U.S. response.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

No COVID-19 resource list is complete without mentioning the CDC, which continues to be the gold standard when it comes to trusted, science-based information and tools for companies and individuals. Early in the pandemic, CDC and other public health organizations had some missteps, including discouraging healthy Americans from wearing masks. They wisely changed their guidance in early April because of new data on the spread of asymptomatic people. The CDC website provides a wealth of practical resources, from how to wear a mask to hand sanitizer to cleaning and disinfecting. I appreciate the simple, approachable language and the sensible tools and tips.

As we approach the one-year mark of working from home – which is my personal benchmark for the start of the pandemic – I am optimistic that we’re getting smarter every day. In a world of misinformation, I’m especially grateful to have access to reliable, unbiased information to guide my personal choices and inform the counsel I provide my clients. 

Mayo Clinic is a Padilla client.

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