Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center: Busting COVID-19 Myths

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center: Busting COVID-19 Myths

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center hosted a virtual legislative roundtable engaging local, state, and federal legislators to discuss COVID-19 and its effects on our community.

Michael Reitz, D.O, SHFM, Vice President Medical Affairs of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center (SNVMC) discussed COVID-19. Dr. Reitz shared social distancing is the best way for the community to stop the spread of the disease; in addition to keeping a six-feet distance between people, the spread of the disease can be curbed by covering your cough or sneeze, frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, disinfecting frequently used areas around your home, and staying home when you are not feeling well.

Dr. Reitz says there are a plethora of Coronavirus Myths*. Here are some of the most common myths debunked.

Hair dryers can kill the virus.

No. This has been proven by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be false and you will likely burn yourself. The best way to protect yourself against the virus is to wash your hands frequently.

Pets can spread the virus.

WHO states there is no evidence of this. Humans can spread the virus to pets, but pets have not been shown to spread this virus to humans.

Pneumonia vaccines can protect you against this virus.

Pneumonia vaccines only protect against bacterial pneumonia caused by Strep, not viral pneumonia.

A vaccine is available or will be available soon for this virus.

While a potential vaccine has been developed, it is under investigation currently and will not be available widely for at least a year, if not a year and a half.

The new coronavirus only infects older people.

People of all ages have become sick with this virus, and while older people die at a higher rate from it, people of all ages are dying from it.

There is effective treatment against the virus.

No, there is no proven treatment. The only agent is hydroxychloroquine currently, which seemed to reduce viral load on patient with the disease, but there is no proof that it shortens duration of the illness and has not been shown to be a cure. The addition of Azithromycin has been proven false.

You don’t have to worry about social distancing if you are wearing a mask.

Masks available to the public protect to a degree. It protects others from you, but not you from others. It keeps your droplets to yourself. You can still contract the virus through a fabric mask and social distancing remains the best way to stop the virus from spreading.

COVID is a death sentence.

Most people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early, but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

*To review other COVID-19 Facts and Myths, please review reputable resources such as:
World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

What should the community do to help healthcare facilities?

1. Donate and advocate to help healthcare facilities obtain personal protective equipment. The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in our community requires immediate action to support those on the front lines. Thank you to the many community partners, businesses, and residents who have graciously donated supplies. We welcome donations and are grateful for your kindness.

While we are taking every measure to conserve and appropriately allocate personal protective equipment (PPE), we may need additional supplies and appreciate donations of all types. Our greatest needs at this time are PPE items:
• Masks (N95 or Disposable Face Masks)
• Nitrile Gloves
• Impervious Gowns (Level 1- Level 4)
• Disposable Shoe Covers
• Fog-Free Face Shields
• Googles

At this time, we are accepting material supplies and individually wrapped food donations from a licensed vendor or restaurant. We are unable to accept homemade food or communal items such as platters.

Please call, 703-523-1369, to schedule a time between 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday – Friday for drop-off.

In April 2020, Sentara Foundation launched the Sentara COVID-19 Community Relief Fund which will provide critical resources and services to help us stop the spread of this virus. Please visit the Northern Virginia region – Sentara COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to contribute.

2. We are Here for You, Stay Home for Us. Each day that you stay home helps flatten the curve. You are helping us fight the battle against COVID-19. Social distancing and staying at home are key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for limiting your time in public and around others. This is working, and we are encouraged by the positive impact this is having in our community.

Keep in mind; this is NOT the time to relax these prevention methods. Please continue to practice social distancing and stay at home. We will get through this together, we need your help now more than ever!

3. Feeling ill? Take the COVID-19 Online Assessment from the Comfort of Your Home.
Sentara Healthcare launched an online COVID-19 chat feature to help determine if you or a loved one should seek COVID-19 testing.

The COVID-19 assessment tool will ask users a series of questions and guide them to the appropriate plan of care. To use the tool:
1. Go to and click on “Coronavirus Assessment Tool” on the right side of the page.
2. Follow the prompts and respond to each question.

“Thank you to our community. The support has been amazing. We are very proud to be a part of this wonderful community in Northern Virginia. I’d also like to give a shout out to our incredible staff, who are the true heroes behind the COVID-19 pandemic, from physicians, nurses, care partners, respiratory techs, radiology team, lab team, environmental services, materials management, food services, to name a few.” expresses President, SNVMC, Kathie Johnson, PhD, MBA, RN.

To learn more about COVID-19 and how it might affect you and your family, visit

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is a 183-bed, not-for-profit community hospital serving Prince William County and its surrounding communities. Our medical center combines the resources of a major health system with the compassionate, personalized care of a community hospital. SNVMC offers quiet, private rooms and high quality care focused on safety and patient satisfaction. We offer a wide range of medical specialties, a highly qualified medical and clinical staff and state-of-the-art technology. Our clinical services include advanced imaging, cancer services, diabetes management, emergency care, heart and vascular care, lab services, neurosurgery, primary care, orthopedics, urology, weight loss surgery, women’s services and more