“I just spoke with a friend who got called into an emergency meeting at his hospital. He said the virus is spreading quickly from gas pumps. He said to wear gloves or have a paper towel touch the pump and throw the napkin or gloves out before you get back in the car. Please tell everyone you know. Shopping carts as well, wipe them down.” (This must have made a mess around the pumps.)
Did you receive this warning? It’s making the rounds. I might believe it more if there was a name, time, place and what hospital? As with most rumors and myths, this one contains a bit of truth. We should, indeed, wipe our hands after using gas pumps, parking meters, door knobs and hand grenades. But I’m not sure about spraying alcohol or chlorine all over my body to kill the new coronavirus. That’s one of the preventatives being passed around. Or I can just touch my TV set. Yes, it’s time again to set the record straight with what works to keep us off the ventilators. Trust me. Have I ever misled you? OK, there is no President Hillary, Y2K didn’t end the world and I did pick Poland over Germany. Only in hindsight was I wrong to warn you against buying stock in that start-up by a book peddler in Seattle, Jeff Bezos.
For advice we turn to the foremost experts on such matters, the World Health Organization, or WHO, among others. Let’s get started. No, hand dryers, like you see in restaurant restrooms, will not kill the new coronavirus. Neither will an ultraviolet disinfection lamp. Actually, using one can harm your skin. While pets can spread certain forms of coronavirus, WHO says that currently there is no evidence pets can be infected with or spread the new coronavirus. But, dummy, you should still wash your hands after petting Fluffy. You don’t where she’s been. Pneumonia vaccines cannot protect you against the new coronavirus, nor can anything else. You see, there is no vaccine that can. None. There are reports out that eating garlic can help prevent infection with the new coronavirus. No, but eating garlic will keep people six feet away from you. “You can protect yourself from the virus by swallowing or gargling bleach.” If you really believe that, go ahead. Who’s your next of kin? Here’s another: “It isn’t safe to receive a letter or a package from China.” WHO reports that’s a lie. “People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.”
A new remedy being passed on: Slathering yourself in sesame oil can block the new coronavirus from entering the body. No, but it does sound kinky. I love this one: Coronavirus is spreading because of the 5G mobile network. Conspiracy theorists on Facebook videos have falsely claimed that the 5G network created the virus by “sucking oxygen out of people’s lungs.” (Facebook has a lot to answer for by passing on these false reports.) Did you know that coronavirus was made in a laboratory? It wasn’t, but videos on social media claim that coronavirus escaped a lab, with some saying the “bioweapon” was purposefully released, and others claiming it was an accident. Joanne Wright, a Republican who ran for Congress in California, tweeted on Feb. 27, “The Corona virus is a man made virus created in a Wuhan laboratory. Ask @BillGates who financed it.” She lost in the primary.
H. L. Menken, a Baltimore author and cynic, wrote, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Don’t believe him? You, lucky you! Mister Occupant, can buy an “oxygen concentration” machine for $3,080, a “Corona Necklace Air Purifier,” which for $59 will provide “All Day Protection.” How about a $299 pill that promises “Anti-Viral Protection” for 30 days. A coronavirus test kit for $29.99 to $79. None of these have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration or anybody else, but these are only some of the bargains found online by The New York Times (don’t you just hate the press?) that are being peddled to the Great Unwashed — unless they wash with sesame oil.
Now we hit new territory. You’ve heard of Bible thumpers – those evangelical Christians who loudly proclaim the gospel. Well now we have Bible Trumpers, big-time preachers who endorse President Trump (and somehow maintain their IRS exemptions). They seem to have a direct connection to God and a cure for coronavirus. You may have read about these: Apostle Guillermo Maldonado has both visited the White House and hosted Trump. In a recording posted to his YouTube channel on March 17, Maldonado declared that he had ordered the virus to “dissolve, disintegrate, die in Jesus’ mighty name” and told those infected to “be healed in Jesus’ mighty name.” Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who was among the evangelical leaders who laid hands on the president in an Oval Office ceremony in 2017, claimed he would cure the entire state of Florida of coronavirus. He also encouraged his congregation to shake hands, claiming “this has to be the safest place.” He vowed that “this church will never close.” Maldonado said that the idea of shutting down to avoid spreading the disease was a “demonic spirit.” Three days later, Maldonado closed his church.
Only in Texas: Kenneth Copeland of Tarrant County, who owns three private jets, visited the White House in 2018 for a dinner for evangelical leaders. Appearing on the Victory Channel, which his church operates, Copeland said it was the president’s critics who “opened the door” to the pandemic with their “displays of hate” that had interfered with “divine protection.” He also said: “Put your hand on that television set. Hallelujah. Thank you, Lord Jesus. He received your healing.”
That is hard to believe. However, if you just touch this newspaper….
Ashby heals at firstname.lastname@example.org