COVID-19 Myths

Accurate information is key to making decisions that protect you, your family, and your community during this public health crisis. If you learn something brand new from a friend, social media, or elsewhere, you should always check its accuracy against a trusted source, like the  L.A. County Department of Public Health or the CDC. For additional information please visit our FAQ


 

ENFORCEMENT

Myth: I will receive a reward in the form of monetary compensation for “ratting out” my neighbors who are not adhering to the Safer at Home order.

This is false. In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Mayor Garcetti issued the “Safer at Home” order, requiring residents of the City of Los Angeles to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain essential activities. The goal of this order is to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases, keep our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, and save lives.

If you believe a business is in violation of the Mayor’s Safer at Home order, you can submit information via the City’s Complaint Intake Form. Complaints will be referred to the City Attorney’s office for investigation and potential enforcement and citation actions.

If your neighbors or friends are violating the order, reach out to them and ask them to change their behavior. To learn more about this order –– including which essential activities and businesses are exempt –– read the FAQ. The rewards for complying with the Safer at Home order are the lives you will save.

 

Myth: The National Guard is enforcing martial law in Los Angeles.

This is false. The National Guard has not been mobilized in Los Angeles. Military vehicles you may have seen in Los Angeles in recent weeks have been engaged in routine movements to support local humanitarian efforts across California.

The National Guard has worked with CAL FIRE and the City of Los Angeles to stand up and build out a medical relief center in the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the City has requested the National Guard’s support at some of its testing sites.

If the National Guard or military units are deployed to the streets of Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti will notify Angelenos.

 

Myth: I am prohibited from leaving my community while the Safer at Home order in effect.

This is false. Law enforcement in Los Angeles is not tracking or enforcing the movements of city residents. That said, public data shows that Angelenos have significantly reduced their travel since the Safer at Home order came into effect –– a positive sign in our fight to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. All Angelenos are encouraged to stay at home except to take care of essential needs and activities. 

 

Myth: I will be arrested for going outside.

This is false. Under the Safer at Home order, residents of the City of Los Angeles are required to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain “essential activities.” On those occasions when you are out of your home for necessary tasks, remember to stay at least six feet away from others. You can leave your home to go to the grocery store, visit the pharmacy to pick up medications and healthcare necessities, take a walk or exercise while adhering to physical distancing guidelines, and engage in other essential activities exempted by the order. You are required to wear a face covering when you go to a grocery store or other essential business. 

 

Myth: I need a letter stating I work for an essential business or LAPD can cite me.

This is false. LAPD is not issuing citations to individual Angelenos who are not in compliance with the Safer at Home order, but working with individuals, communities, families, and businesses to help them become compliant. Only non-essential businesses that continue to operate in violation of the order may be referred to the City Attorney’s office for misdemeanor charges.

 

Myth: LAPD is stopping people on public transportation and asking for proof they need to travel, or citing them for not wearing a mask.

This is false. Metro’s law enforcement partners, the nonprofit PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), and Metro’s private security personnel are conducting assessments of riders at some of the busier transit hubs. The purpose of the assessments is to educate riders on the importance of limiting travel to essential activities and to connect vulnerable and unhoused individuals to shelter beds. No one should be asked about the purpose of their travel or be required to leave the system. As always, LAPD’s priority is to support Angelenos, promote public safety, and help save lives.

 

Myth: LAPD is actively issuing fines and citations to people not wearing face coverings.

This is false. The L.A. County Department of Public Health recommends that you wear a face covering when you are interacting with others to help to contain your respiratory droplets. And under the Worker Protection order, non-medical essential businesses are allowed to refuse service to customers who do not wear face coverings.

The City of Los Angeles is working to help make face coverings more accessible to people who need them. You can find links to local manufacturers selling face coverings at the L.A. Protects website.

Please note that a face covering is not a substitute for other critical measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 — most importantly, staying home and practicing safe physical distancing.


 

HEALTH

Myth: I can’t spread the coronavirus if I’m not symptomatic.

This is false. While the CDC believes people are typically most contagious when they are most symptomatic, recent studies suggest that many people with coronavirus are asymptomatic and can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms, or even if they never show symptoms at all. Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

 

Myth: Only older people and people with underlying conditions can contract the coronavirus.

This is false. While older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions are generally at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, any person can become sick from COVID-19 and symptoms can range from mild to severe regardless of age or medical conditions. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of at least 759 people under the age of 50 in the United States.

 

Myth: COVID-19 is caused by 5G cell towers.

This is false. An internet conspiracy theory suggests that 5G wireless technology is linked to the spread of COVID-19. This claim is baseless and unsubstantiated. COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can spread from person to person and is caused by a novel coronavirus.

It is critical to stick to trusted sources for accurate information about COVID-19, such as the Centers for Disease Control, the L.A. Department of Public Health, the City of L.A.’s Coronavirus website, and the NotifyLA mass notification system.

 

Myth: Only the nasal swab COVID-19 test is accurate. The oral swabs do not work.

This is false. While current medical literature suggests that a naso-pharygneal swab performed by a trained healthcare professional may be more sensitive to detect the COVID-19 virus, oral testing swabs have been approved by the FDA. Both types of COVID-19 tests have produced false negatives.

If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, it is important to assume that you are carrying the virus and isolate yourself at home. The L.A. County Department of Public Health website has detailed information on home isolation in a dozen languages here. (See "What You Should Know"; "What if I'm Sick").

If you remain symptomatic and are concerned about a false negative from a prior test, you should request another test through your primary care physician.

 

Myth: There are products I can buy to learn if I have COVID-19, and to treat or cure it if I do.

This is false. There are no commercially available in-home tests for COVID-19 that consumers can purchase. L.A. County residents can schedule an appointment for free testing, whether or not they have symptoms, here.

At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to avoid illness is by limiting your exposure to the virus by keeping distance from others, washing your hands often, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily. For more information, see the Centers for Disease (CDC) website.

 


 

FOOD AND SUPPLIES

Myth: Tap water in Los Angeles is not safe to drink during the COVID-19 crisis.

This is false. The water from your tap continues to be of the highest quality and is 100 percent safe to drink. COVID-19 poses no threat to L.A.’s public drinking water supply and there is no need to use bottled water. LADWP’s treatment processes are specifically designed to protect the public from all viruses and harmful bacteria. The use of LADWP water in handwashing is safe as an effective means of removing germs, in combination with the use of soap and proper handwashing measures.

 

Myth: The city is at risk of running out of food.

This is false. There is no shortage of supplies at our grocery stores and no reason to over-buy. Grocery stores, convenience stores, warehouse stores, and pharmacies are frequently restocking. You should continue to buy normal quantities of essential supplies on the same schedule you normally do. As part of Mayor Garcetti’s Safer at Home emergency order, trucks and other vehicles engaged in the delivery of grocery items to stores are exempt from nightly curfews — a measure which will help ensure stores remain well-stocked.

 

Myth: Price gouging is permitted during the COVID-19 crisis.

This is false. It is unlawful for any food items or goods, medical supplies, or services to be sold at more than 10 percent higher than what they were selling for before the City of Los Angeles declared a public health emergency on March 4, 2020. You can report price gouging, alleged scams, false advertising or other consumer-related issues tied to coronavirus to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office.


 

OTHER MYTHS

Myth: If I test positive for COVID-19, my children will be taken away from me.

This is false. Your testing information will never be used to harm you or your family. The County’s Department of Children and Family Services will not take children away from parents who have tested positive.

We have ramped up testing across the county in order to better track the virus, get ahead of future outbreaks, and help connect people with treatment. That’s what the testing results are for –– to keep you safe, and to keep us all healthy. No matter your immigration status, you should not be scared to get a test. Sign up for a testing appointment now.

Myth: I don’t need to wear a face covering in public if I’m not sick.

This is false. Every Angeleno, except young children who are at risk of suffocation and people with certain disabilities, is required to wear face coverings any time you leave the house. This simple protection will reduce the transmission of the virus and save lives.

Remember that a face covering is not a substitute for other critical measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 — most importantly, staying home, practicing safe physical distancing, washing your hands often, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

The new guidelines on face coverings exempt children under 2 and people with certain disabilities.

You can make your own face covering with a bandana, scarf, or piece of cloth. You can follow instructions available online from trusted sources, like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). You can also find links to local manufacturers selling face coverings at the L.A. Protects website. Face coverings should be washed after each use.

At this time, you should not be purchasing medical grade masks, which are in short supply. It is extremely important that these masks are reserved for those who need them most and have the highest risk of infection, including medical professionals, healthcare workers, public safety workers, and other front line workers.

You can find more information on the City’s guidance here. The L.A. County Department of Public Health and the County of Los Angeles have also information on face coverings on their websites.

 

Myth: I do not need to wear a mask when I am exercising outside of my home.

This is false. Every Angeleno, except young children who are at risk of suffocation and people with certain disabilities, is required to wear face coverings any time you leave the house. This simple protection will reduce the transmission of the virus and save lives.

Young children who are at risk of suffocation and people with certain disabilities are not required to wear a face covering.

 

Myth: As long as I sell food or water, I am considered an essential business under the Safer at Home order.

Not necessarily. Even if a store sells some items that are considered essential, only businesses classified as essential in the Safer at Home order may continue to operate during the emergency period. If your business is not listed as essential in the order, you are not authorized to be operating right now. Any nonessential business operating that is visited by a Business Ambassador or LAPD and asked to close must comply with the request.

 

Myth: If I am a non-essential business, I can switch to online-only sales and stay open.

This is false. A business engaged in non-essential activities cannot render itself exempt from the Safer at Home order by switching to online sales. In limited circumstances, the City will permit some on-site activities from an otherwise non-essential business if the activities are directed at assisting with the City's emergency response to the COVID019 pandemic, but these businesses are required to obtain prior authorization.

 

Myth: Los Angeles is under a “lockdown” or “shelter in place” order.

This is false. “Shelter in place” and “lockdown” are inaccurate ways to describe the current restrictions in place in Los Angeles. Shelter in place generally refers to stopping where you are — not at home — during a public safety emergency like a shooting, and “lockdown” implies that people literally cannot leave their home.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all safer at home. That’s why Mayor Garcetti is requiring residents of the City of Los Angeles to stay inside their homes unless they are engaged in certain essential activities.

 

Myth: The Port of Los Angeles is closed during the COVID-19 emergency period.

This is false. The Port of Los Angeles is not closed. All terminals at the Port of Los Angeles are open and operational. Port operations, manufacturing, and distribution are considered critical and essential, as part of America’s supply chain, which must continue. For more information about the Port of Los Angeles during COVID-19, visit the Port’s website.