Cisco looking more to software but road is slower, due to the pandemic


Cisco Systems Inc.’s earnings had a bright spot Wednesday, but the giant shadow of coronavirus blotted it out.

Cisco
CSCO,
+1.92%

collected more revenue from software and services than hardware for the first time in its just-completed fiscal year, a milestone in the company’s transition from its legacy hardware business to a tech company suited for the new era. That transition means much less in the age of COVID-19, however, as the pandemic is accelerating the downfall of the biggest sales drivers for Cisco and putting even more pressure on the company’s newer assets.

Cisco reported that revenue dropped 9% in the fiscal fourth quarter to $12.2 billion, and predicted that sales would continue to decline at an equal or greater rate in the current period. In response, Cisco plans to cut $1 billion in costs, a supersized return to Cisco’s previous pattern of a large restructuring at the end of a fiscal year.

Chief Financial Officer Kelly Kramer revealed to MarketWatch in an interview Wednesday afternoon that Cisco’s cost cuts would start with a voluntary retirement offering, and mentioned research and development as an area that would be targeted while declining to provide a target for job cuts. Kramer also announced her voluntary retirement Wednesday, an unrelated move that will allow her to move on to more board seats (she currently has two) and investing.

Cisco’s revenue decline was led by its older networking products, with total product revenue down 13%, and declines across switching, routing, data center and wireless driven primarily by weakness in the commercial enterprise markets. Pockets of strength included the company’s more recent network and software-as-a-service offering, the Catalyst 9000, and double-digit growth in its WebEx video platform, which is seeing a surge of usage with many people working from home.

Cisco unveiled the Catalyst 9000 in 2017 as part of its strategy to become more of a software and service provider, with a subscription model that offers networking software that helps companies automate more of their IT departments. And if a company is looking at modernizing its network, with everyone working from home, they are often looking at the CAT 9000, Chief Executive Chuck Robbins said.

“Some of them are using this opportunity, with no one in their campus environments, to upgrade,” he told analysts on the company’s conference call.

The revenue from these service-focused deals is more lucrative for Cisco, Kramer told MarketWatch.

“You don’t recognize it for three years, but you are getting the revenue,” she said. “You get even more when they renew.”

But with the pandemic hurting many of its other product areas, especially its sales to large corporate customers, it’s going to be a longer, slower road to transition to even more software sales. One analyst said that he believed the company should become more aggressive in M&A to fill in the gaps, just a few days after Cisco closed its purchase of ThousandEyes. Robbins said the company will continue to be disciplined, but that it is open to ideas and has a list of potential acquisition targets that Cisco maintains on a regular basis.

Cisco indeed may have to speed up its moves to become more software- and services-focused, and could use the pandemic to score some deals. Fortunately, Kramer said she will stick around for the transition, but the restructuring may take up more focus before Cisco can start adding new entities.



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Vaping makes teens up to 7 times more likely to catch COVID-19: study


Here’s another cloud on the horizon for e-cigarette companies.

A new Stanford study links vaping to a “substantially increased risk” of COVID-19 in teens and young adults. The national sample of more than 4,000 participants conducted in May found that people who vaped were five to seven times more likely to become infected with the novel coronavirus, compared with those who did not vape.

Among the subjects tested for COVID-19, those who had ever used e-cigarettes were five times more likely to test positive for the virus than the non-users. And those who had used both e-cigarettes and conventional tobacco cigarettes within the last month were 6.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Teens who smoked and vaped were also five times more likely to report coronavirus symptoms, including coughing, fever, tiredness and difficulty breathing, compared with those who never smoked or vaped. And this same group was about two to nine times more likely to get tested for the virus than non-vapers and non-smokers, probably because they were more likely to exhibit symptoms.

“Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Shivani Mathur Gaiha, wrote in a statement. “This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one.”

Some limitations include the fact that the study relied on self-reports from online surveys, and it also didn’t offer a reason why vaping would make young people more susceptible to the virus that has infected at least 20 million and killed 743,599 and counting worldwide as of Wednesday morning.


“It’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one.”


— Study author Dr. Shivani Mathur Gaiha

A recent University of San Francisco report did suggest that smoking, including e-cigarettes, doubled the risk of young adults (ages 18 to 25) getting severely ill from COVID-19, however. “A key finding is that the most prevalent factor conferring medical vulnerability to severe COVID-19 illness among young adults is smoking,” the authors wrote.

And previous research has suggested a link between vaping and both lung and heart disease. The American Heart Association also recently recommended that people “not smoke or vape any substance, including cannabis products, because of the potential harm to the heart, lungs and blood vessels.”

Research has also warned that e-cigarettes actually encourage teens to try traditional cigarettes, even though the products are often marketed as an alternative to cigarettes and a means to quit smoking. In fact, the odds of ever smoking a cigarette were four times higher if the teenager used an e-cigarette as their first tobacco product, one study of 6,000 young people found.

Read more:Vaping may be more harmful to teens than we thought

Theories for why vaping could leave adolescents more susceptible to COVID-19 include the potential damage that it does to the lungs and immune system, the Stanford study noted, or the possibility that the aerosols emitted from an electronic vaping device could include droplets contaminated with COVID-19.

What’s more, the researchers wrote that COVID-19 is known to spread through respiratory droplets, and repeatedly touching your mouth and your face — which is a habit common among cigarette and e-cig users. Perhaps worse, teens often share their vape pens and other e-cig devices with each other, which could also possibly spread the virus.

Related:Dr. Fauci recommends wearing goggles to prevent catching the coronavirus

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) sent a letter to the FDA on behalf of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on Tuesday calling for vaping products to be temporarily removed from the market. He noted that he had warned the FDA about a potential link between vaping and COVID-19 in April, but the agency cited the need for more evidence that vaping was a risk. “That failure to act cost us four months of harm to Americans that we cannot get back,” Krishnamoorthi wrote.

“I respectfully reiterate my call on FDA to clear the market of all e-cigarettes for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. It is the only responsible path forward,” he added.

The FDA was not immediately available for comment. Its COVID-19 FAQ warns that people who smoke traditional cigarettes may be more vulnerable to respiratory illness, including COVID-19, as smoking causes lung disease and can also create inflammation and cell damage throughout the body. But it has less to say about e-cigarettes. For now, the FDA warns that vaping tobacco or nicotine can expose the lungs to toxic chemicals. “Whether those exposures increase the risk of COVID-19 or the severity of COVID-19 outcomes is not known,” the FDA site says. Indeed, COVID-19 is a never-before-seen virus that health experts are still learning about.

E-cigarettes were a $25 billion market last year, dominated by Juul, which is 35% owned by Altria Group
MO,
-1.25%
.
Juul did not immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for comment about the new study or Krishnamoorthi’s call to temporarily suspend vaping products.

But the industry came under fire last year after a mysterious illness called E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) sickened Americans, with the CDC reporting 2,807 hospitalizations for the vaping-related illness as of late February of this year.

The surge in teens and tweens vaping also became a cause for concern before the pandemic, as 5 million high school and middle-school students reported using e-cigarettes in the FDA’s 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, including one in four high schoolers.

In January, the Trump administration banned fruit, candy, mint and dessert e-cig flavors popular with teenagers to deter them from vaping. But menthol and tobacco flavors were allowed to remain on the market. “We have to protect our families,” Trump said at the time. “At the same time, it’s a big industry. We want to protect the industry.”

Keep up with MarketWatch’s ongoing coronavirus coverage here.



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When are people with COVID-19 at their most contagious?


The coronavirus pandemic hit another unwelcome milestone this week as the number of COVID-19 infections hit 20.1 million globally, according to the latest data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

But the actual number of cases is likely much higher, health authorities say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 40% of people with COVID-19 are actually asymptomatic, which makes it difficult for health professionals to trace transmission.

Other data have suggested that 16% of coronavirus transmission is due to carriers not displaying symptoms or only showing very mild symptoms who, while they’re contagious, may not believe they have the disease.


Knowing when an infected person can spread SARS-CoV-2 is just as important as how the virus spreads so rapidly.

One case study of the quarantined Italian town of Vò published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature in June revealed more than 40% of COVID-19 infections had no symptoms.

With a population of approximately 3,200 people, Vò reported Italy’s first COVID-related death on Feb. 20. As a result, the residents of the town were placed in quarantine for 14 days.

Some 2.6% of the town tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, at the beginning of the lockdown, but that figure fell to 1.2% after a couple of weeks. Throughout this time, 40% of those infections were people who displayed no symptoms. The researchers also concluded that it took 9.3 days for people who tested positive to be virus-free.

“Someone with an asymptomatic infection is entirely unconscious of carrying the virus and, according to their lifestyle and occupation, could meet a large number of people without modifying their behavior,” found the study, which was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Padua.

“If we find a certain number of symptomatic people testing positive, we expect the same number of asymptomatic carriers that are much more difficult to identify and isolate,” according to Enrico Lavezzo, a professor in the University of Padua’s department of molecular medicine.

Related: Was COVID-19 made in a lab? Will a vaccine protect you forever? Does the sun help? Coronavirus myths are spreading in 25 languages — here are the most popular

That, health professionals say, raises questions about how contagious they are after contracting the virus, and for how long they remain so.

Knowing when an infected person can spread SARS-CoV-2 is just as important as how the virus spreads so rapidly. WHO recently published a scientific brief on how the virus spreads, particularly among those who don’t show symptoms.

The virus can be detected in people one to three days before their symptom onset, with the highest viral loads around the day of the onset of symptoms, followed by a gradual decline over time. This level of contagiousness appears to be one to two weeks for asymptomatic persons, and up to three weeks or more for patients with mild to moderate disease.


The virus can be detected in people one to three days before their symptoms, with the highest viral loads on day one.

“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur through direct, indirect, or close contact with infected people through infected secretions such as saliva and respiratory secretions or their respiratory droplets, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings,” the WHO said. This makes asymptomatic transmission all the more prevalent, scientists say.

However, all studies on asymptomatic people have limitations, the WHO added: “For example, some studies did not clearly describe how they followed up with persons who were asymptomatic at the time of testing to ascertain if they ever developed symptoms. Others defined ‘asymptomatic’ very narrowly as persons who never developed fever or respiratory symptoms, rather than as those who did not develop any symptoms at all.”

The U.S. COVID-19 death toll could reach nearly 300,000 by Dec. 1, but consistent mask-wearing beginning today could save approximately 70,000 lives, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

“It appears that people are wearing masks and socially distancing more frequently as infections increase, then after a while as infections drop, people let their guard down and stop taking these measures to protect themselves and others,” IHME director Christopher Murray said.

Dispatches from a pandemic:Ireland says people must wear masks in stores to stop COVID-19 — but why did it take so long?

COVID-19 has now killed at least 738,668 people worldwide, and the U.S. ranks 15th in the world for deaths per 100,000 people (49.5), Johns Hopkins University says.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, last month announced a rollback of operations statewide at restaurants as well as bars, zoos, wineries, museums, card rooms and movie theaters. “This is in every county in the state of California, not just those on the watch list,” he said.

The shutdown also affected indoor operations of gyms, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, hairdressers, beauty salons, indoor malls and other places of businesses in 30 counties on California’s ”monitoring list,” which represent 80% of the state of California.

On the anniversary of the 1918 flu, health writer Ed Yong warned of another pandemic and now says the U.S. must learn the lessons from the past seven months, adding, “COVID-19 is merely a harbinger of worse plagues to come.”


New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., was a case study in how the virus is transmitted.

“Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages — immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise — it floundered,” he wrote in the September issue of The Atlantic.

While South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted “decisively” to flatten and then bend the curve of new infections downward, “the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer,” he added.

Yong said he had spoken to more than 100 health experts since the pandemic began and sums up the U.S.’s mistakes this way: “A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold,” compounded by “chronic underfunding of public health.”

“A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID-19,” he added.

New York City, the onetime U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, was a case study in how some Americans fared better than others and how the virus is transmitted. Black and Latino people were hospitalized at twice the rate of Caucasians during the peak of the crisis, data released in May by the city showed.

Black New Yorkers were hospitalized at a rate of 632 per 100,000 people, while Caucasians were hospitalized at a rate of 284 per 100,000 people. Black and Hispanic residents were dying at a rate of 21.3 per 100,000, while non-white races were dying at a rate of 40.2 per 100,000, according to the data.

One theory: More foreign-born Americans are likely to live in multi-generational households, and Asian and Hispanic people are more likely than white people to be immigrants, according to the Pew Research Center. People of color are more likely to work in frontline jobs that carry a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

Dispatches from a pandemic: A letter from Chennai as India tops 2 million COVID-19 cases: ‘In the midst of so much death, despair and depression, life does go on’

President Donald Trump on Saturday bypassed the nation’s lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

However, the executive order and memorandums ostensibly providing relief amid the intractable pandemic don’t seem feasible or legal, analysts said, adding that the wording of the orders raised more questions than answers.

The U.S. has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths of any country (164,480), followed by Brazil (101,752), Mexico (53,003), the U.K. (46,611) and India (45,257). The virus has infected least 5,094,565 people in the U.S., the most of any country.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has been optimistic about a vaccine arriving at the end of 2020 or in early 2021, and says people must continue to practice social distancing and wear masks.

Fauci has said he is hopeful that a coronavirus vaccine could be developed by early 2021, but has previously said it’s unlikely that a vaccine will deliver 100% immunity; he said the best realistic outcome, based on other vaccines, would be 70% to 75% effectiveness. Other epidemiologists are even more circumspect on a vaccine wiping out transmission of the virus anytime soon.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index
DJIA,
-0.37%
,
S&P 500
SPX,
-0.79%

and Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-1.69%

was ended lower on Tuesday as investors awaited progress on round two of a fiscal stimulus during the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: Feeling lax about masks? Think again. Here’s how many lives could be saved if everyone wore a mask — starting today




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As Big Ten and Pac-12 cancel their football seasons because of COVID-19, college sports programs are facing a financial apocalypse


While millions of fans are lamenting the looming disappearance of college sports this fall, the coronavirus pandemic is also exposing financial fault lines and a broken governance model that may trigger an opportunity to irrevocably transform big-dollar college athletic programs.

COVID-19 has cast a harsh spotlight on some painful truths about high-revenue college football in particular—notably, that the billions generated by lucrative media contracts and conference-owned networks have warped the mission and incentives in this educational not-for-profit model, resulting in years of overspending on coaching salaries and gilded sports facilities.

The absence of significant reserve funds to cover these costs, due to a “spend what we make” mentality, is evident in the painstaking and   splintered decision-making process on whether to play football in the fall and keep the TV money flowing.

These big-revenue programs are part of the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) — 130 football teams in all, whose athletics department budgets ranged from $16 million to $207 million in 2018. This 10-conference subdivision includes the only college football teams that still might play this fall — a number that dwindles by the day, with news Tuesday that the Big Ten and the Pac-12 conferences have cancelled the fall season.

The disjointed decision-making, with emergency
meetings of each conference’s governing board of university presidents, may
leave the viability of fall football in limbo for days or weeks. That muddle stands
in contrast to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, and all of
Division II and III, whose 600-plus colleges and universities have already
cancelled their fall championships, including football.

The Big Ten and Pac-12, along with the ACC, Big
12 and SEC, are members of the TV-revenue
rich “Power 5” conferences that ultimately control the decisions for FBS college
football.


The Power 5 would collectively lose more than $4 billion in football revenues from a mass cancellation, with each of its 65 programs losing an average of $62 million.

Adding to the turmoil, Power
5 football players are split about playing this fall. Hundreds of players from the
Pac-12 and Big 10 are demanding that their conferences meet
their safety and other concerns, while others have started their own campaign
to support playing this fall.

Black athletes account for more than half of football players in the Power 5 conferences, and hospitalization rates from COVID-19 are roughly five times higher among Black Americans than white Americans. Given the disparate impact of the pandemic and emerging questions about the potential long-term health complications of COVID-19, athletes are raising critical questions about the priority of racial equity, health and safety.

The lack of unifying
leadership in making decisions about a fall season underscores college
football’s broken and fragmented governance system. Unlike the NCAA’s March
Madness basketball tournament, the FBS’s 10 conferences manage their lucrative postseason championship—the
College Football Playoff—independent of the NCAA
.

Last spring, the NCAA canceled
March Madness in one board meeting. By contrast, the presidents and
commissioners of each of the Power 5 conferences are making the call on fall
football on their own.  

Outside of the Power 5
conferences, the vast majority of 1,200 non-profit educational institutions in
the NCAA’s three divisions do not view athletics programs as money-makers. Colleges
and universities fund athletics as enhancements to student life, much like providing
opportunities for students to participate in dance, theater, debate, or other
development and civic engagement activities. At the more than 400 schools in
Division III, one
out of every six students participates in varsity sports.

While the absence of fall
sports at most NCAA institutions will not result in significant revenue
shortfalls in ticket sales or media contracts, the impact may be seen
in reduced tuition revenues for many small colleges that depend on athletics as
an enrollment tool for recruiting students.

At the other end of the
spectrum, the Power 5 football programs have created a financial structure that is “too big to fail.” The pandemic
should propel a radically reorganized way of doing business.

Twisted
incentives in FBS football

A crude sense of the
financial apocalypse that could result from cancelling football for all of the Power
5 conferences (as opposed to postponing football to the spring) can be gleaned
from institutionally-reported data collected for the Knight
Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics
, an independent group on which we serve that
has a legacy of influencing NCAA policy change.

Patrick Rishe, director of
the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, used our
database and other sources to project that the Power 5 would collectively lose more
than $4 billion in football revenues from a mass cancellation, with each of its
65 programs losing an average of $62 million.

Looking at fixed expenses, our database shows
that 54
of the public Power 5 institutions (data for private institutions is not available) hold $7.4
billion in total athletics debt for which they pay a combined $578 million in
annual debt service
.

These same institutions also have contracts with highly paid
coaches that, in many cases, don’t have “force majeure” clauses allowing for
reductions during a crisis, such as a pandemic. In 2018, these same 54
institutions spent more
than $2.4 billion
in coaching, administrative and staff salaries.

The other half of the FBS conferences outside the Power 5 have programs that face different financial realities. Two funding sources under severe strain during the pandemic—student fees and institutional support—make up 56% of these programs’ budgets.

Adding to their financial woes is the cancellation of early season non-conference road games against Power 5 football teams. In past seasons, these games have provided guaranteed million-dollar payouts, often accounting for 10% of the budgeted revenues for the entire athletics department of these lower-resourced programs.

With
important meetings to come, it is not yet clear if any FBS football games will
be played this fall or spring, but what is clear is a new model for college
sports should emerge.

For too long, Division I and its FBS football
model have been shaped by distorted non-educational incentives to simply win
games and boost television market share. At this moment of crisis, Division I
college presidents have an opportunity to demonstrate bold leadership. A
post-pandemic model for college sports should address excessive spending and
promote fiscal sanity, while creating incentives and new governance structures
that do more to prioritize college athletes’ education, health, safety and
success.

Nancy Zimpher is chancellor emeritus for the State University of New York and Jonathan Mariner is the former executive vice president and CFO of Major League Baseball. Both are board members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.



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These are the most widely shared coronavirus myths shared in 25 languages across 87 countries


Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, some people are on edge, while others are just plain confused. Adding to the increasingly chaotic nature of the information superhighway in 2020, others are sharing misleading information and outright falsehoods across the internet and on television.

Some outlandish rumors persist. To adherents of such beliefs, the coronavirus is a dastardly bioweapon designed to wreak economic armageddon on the West; a left-wing conspiracy to damage the re-election prospects of President Donald Trump; a virus that leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

A new study in the latest edition of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene identified 2,311 reports of rumors, stigma and conspiracy theories in 25 languages from 87 countries related to COVID-19 across social media and, yes, online news media sites.


Do you have to wear a mask outdoors? Only medical-grade N95 surgical masks with goggles work, right, so why bother wearing a homemade face covering?

Paranoia politicizes a public-health emergency and distracts from potentially life-saving measures. “Misinformation fueled by rumors, stigma, and conspiracy theories can have potentially serious implications on the individual and community if prioritized over evidence-based guidelines,” the study said.

The most oft-shared claims were related to the seriousness of the illness, transmission and mortality rate (24%); the effectiveness of control measures (21%); treatments and cures touted online (19%); and the origins of pandemic (15%).

Of the 2,276 reports for which text ratings were available, 1,856 claims were false (82%). “Health agencies must track misinformation associated with the COVID-19 in real time, and engage local communities and government stakeholders to debunk misinformation,” the report found.

There are, of course, many nuances and truths mixed in with some rumors. Among the evidence-supported statements by members of the scientific community: Like the influenza vaccines, any future vaccine will likely only last a number of years, and not give everyone 100% immunity.

Do you have to wear a mask outdoors? Only medical-grade N95 surgical masks with goggles can help guarantee protection against the virus, so why bother wearing a homemade face covering? Health professionals and studies support the idea that face coverings can help stop the spread.


Exposure to the sun or to temperatures higher than 77 Fahrenheit (25 Celsius) doesn’t prevent the COVID-19 virus or cure the disease, the Mayo Clinic says.

They have helped reduce contagion by reducing droplets being sprayed into the air during flu season, and scientists say they can similarly help now, particularly with the high number of asymptomatic carriers. Maskless joggers can leave a droplet slipstream of 30 feet outdoors.

What’s more, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, earlier this month recommended wearing goggles as a “complete” method to help prevent contracting the coronavirus.

COVID-19 only affects older people, right? And it’s a few bad days or weeks in bed, and you’re back to normal? Incorrect, and no: Lung scarring and heart and kidney damage may result from COVID-19, and some younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy are suffering blood clots and strokes.

A study of 60 COVID-19 patients published in the Lancet this month found that 55% of them were still displaying neurological symptoms during follow-up visits three months later, including confusion and difficulty concentrating, as well as headaches, loss of taste and/or smell, mood changes and insomnia.

Won’t the summer sun and heat help? “Exposure to the sun or to temperatures higher than 77 Fahrenheit (25 Celsius) doesn’t prevent the COVID-19 virus or cure COVID-19,” according to a myth-busting guide from the Mayo Clinic.

“You can get the COVID-19 virus in sunny, hot and humid weather. Taking a hot bath also can’t prevent you from catching the COVID-19 virus,” the article warns. “Your normal body temperature remains the same, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower.”

Related:COVID-19 infections just hit 20 million worldwide — why the actual number of cases is likely much higher

Here are some other popular misconceptions derailed by the Mayo Clinic: Cold weather and snow do not kill COVID-19. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Drinking alcohol doesn’t protect you from the virus. And spraying it on your body doesn’t help if you are infected.

The supplement colloidal silver, which has been marketed as a treatment, is not considered safe or effective for treating any disease. “There’s no evidence that eating garlic protects against infection with the COVID-19 virus,” the Mayo Clinic added. (It doesn’t help with vampires either, because they don’t exist.)

Another outlandish theory: “Avoiding exposure to or use of 5G networks doesn’t prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. Viruses can’t travel on radio waves and mobile networks. The COVID-19 virus is spreading in many countries that lack 5G mobile networks,” the organization said.


Cold weather and snow does not kill COVID-19. Radio waves and mobile networks don’t cure or spread the virus. Antibiotics only kill bacteria.

Ultraviolet light and disinfectants can be used on surfaces, it added. But don’t use a UV lamp to sterilize your hands or other areas of your body. UV radiation can lead to skin irritation and bleach can burn you.

Who tends to believe falsehoods? People who get their news from social-media platforms like Facebook
FB,
-2.61%

and Twitter
TWTR,
-0.42%

are more likely to have misperceptions about COVID-19, according to a recent study led by researchers at McGill University in Montreal.

“Those that consume more traditional news media have fewer misperceptions and are more likely to follow public health recommendations like social distancing,” concluded the paper, which was published in the latest issue of the Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review.

“In the context of a crisis like COVID-19, however, there is good reason to be concerned about the role that the consumption of social media is playing in boosting misperceptions,” says co-author Aengus Bridgman, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at McGill University.

Social-media platforms have been criticized for their failures to stop the spread of misinformation, especially concerning elections and the coronavirus pandemic, despite a number of new policies enacted since Russia used the platforms to interfere in the 2016 elections.

In May, Twitter marked tweets by President Donald Trump with a fact-check warning label for the first time, after the president falsely claimed mail-in ballots are “substantially fraudulent.” (He has continued to make such claims on social media and elsewhere.)


Paranoia politicizes a public-health emergency and distracts from potentially life-saving measures.

Earlier this month, social-media sites attempted to quash a video pushing misleading information about hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment — which led to Twitter’s partially suspending Donald Trump Jr.’s account.

The video featured doctors calling hydroxychloroquine — a drug used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis for decades — “a cure for COVID,” despite a growing body of scientific evidence indicating it is not an effective treatment for the coronavirus.

In April, the president floated the idea of using ultraviolet light inside the body or a disinfectant by “injection” as a treatment for coronavirus: “I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute.” (The next day, Trump claimed he was not being serious.)

COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, had infected over 20 million people globally and 5.1 million in the U.S. as of Tuesday. It had killed more than 738,668 people worldwide and at least 164,480 in the U.S. States and the South and West have seen a surge in cases.

The stock market has been on a wild ride in recent months. The Dow Jones Industrial Index
DJIA,
-0.37%
,
the S&P 500
SPX,
-0.79%

and Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP,
-1.69%

closed lower on Tuesday as investors await round two of a fiscal stimulus.




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