A warning to those quick to hit the "share" button on social media: A list purporting to be "Wisdom from Dr. Bonnie Henry" is making the rounds online, and it is definitely not anything the B.C. Public Health Official authored.
The list of 16 items runs the gamut of sound bite-style take-aways from Dr. Henry's many press conferences and interviews, however while the ideas may ring somewhat familiar in step with things she has said, none of the items on the list are direct quotes from Dr. Henry, nor did she assemble the list.
Here's how the list reads on Facebook, as shared in a public post from a user the morning of Wednesday, July 15:
Wisdom from Dr Bonnie Henry
- We may have to live with C19 for months or years. Let's not deny it or panic. Let's not make our lives useless. Let's learn to live with this fact.
- You can't destroy C19 viruses that have penetrated cell walls, by drinking gallons of hot water you'll just go to the bathroom more often.
- Washing hands and maintaining a two-metre physical distance is the best method for your protection.
- If you don't have a C19 patient at home, there's no need to disinfect the surfaces at your house.
- Packaged cargo, gas pumps, shopping carts and ATMs do not cause infection. If you wash your hands, live your life as usual.
- C19 is not a food infection. It is associated with drops of infection like the 'flu. There is no demonstrated risk that C19 is transmitted by food.
- You can lose your sense of smell with a lot of allergies and viral infections. This is only a non-specific symptom of C19.
- Once at home, you don't need to change your clothes urgently and go shower! Purity is a virtue, paranoia is not!
- The C19 virus doesn't hang in the air for long. This is a respiratory droplet infection that requires close contact.
- The air is clean, you can walk through the gardens and through parks (just keeping your physical protection distance).
- It is sufficient to use normal soap against C19, not antibacterial soap. This is a virus, not a bacteria.
- You don't have to worry about your food orders. But you can heat it all up in the microwave, if you wish.
- The chances of bringing C19 home with your shoes is like being struck by lightning twice in a day. I've been working against viruses for 20 years — drop infections don't spread like that!
- You can't be protected from the virus by taking vinegar, sugarcane juice and ginger! These are for immunity not a cure.
- Wearing a mask for long periods interferes with your breathing and oxygen levels. Wear it only in crowds.
- Wearing gloves is also a bad idea; the virus can accumulate into the glove and be easily transmitted if you touch your face. Better just to wash your hands regularly. Immunity is greatly weakened by always staying in a sterile environment. Even if you eat immune boosting foods, please go out of your house regularly to any park/beach. Immunity is increased by EXPOSURE TO PATHOGENS, not by sitting at home and consuming fried/ spicy/sugary food and aerated drinks.
Be smart and stay informed!
Live life sensibly and to the fullest.—
and Be Safe
Dr Bonnie Henry
The list isn't new to the internet, with roots going back to mid-May and a connection to a U.S. physician in Maryland. However, the list is newly showing Dr. Henry as its author.
That doctor is Dr. Faheen Younus, the Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. The list actually has its roots in the multiple tweets Dr. Younus shared into May on his personal Twitter feed. The paraphrased format first appeared, and was widely shared, thanks to an article on the site TheAZB.com.
If you take the first piece of "wisdom," in the now-circulating Dr. Henry-attributed posts, it reads: "We may have to live with C19 for months or years. Let's not deny it or panic. Let's not make our lives useless. Let's learn to live with this fact."
TheAZB.com begins their recap of Dr. Younus' tweeted items as follows: "He Tweets We will live with Covid19 for months. Let’s not deny it or panic. Let’s not make life unnecessarily difficult. Let us learn to be happy and live with that fact."
Similarly, the items in the list are paraphrased and tweaked as they are adapted by each re-poster or re-formatter of the list. For example, while The AZB.com summarizes a thought attributed to Dr. Younus as "You cannot be protected from the virus by drinking / eating vinegar, sumac, soda and ginger." The Dr. Henry-attributed phony list reads as follows: "You can't be protected from the virus by taking vinegar, sugarcane juice and ginger! These are for immunity not a cure."
Dr. Younus himself discredited the viral post, which moved rapidly on WhatsApp, in a tweet on June 6:
IMPORTANT:— Faheem Younus, MD (@FaheemYounus) June 6, 2020
These are not my words. There are errors and typos in this viral post on FB/WhatsApp that someone adapted from my tweets without approval.
I share COVID info only on twitter. Just read through my TL here if you’d like accurate info.
Spread the word please. Thx pic.twitter.com/tplGscusMh
On July 15, a site called The Dallas Orthodox Jewish Life presents the list as "Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Down to Earth Advice," featuring an image taken without permission from the New York Times' recent profile of B.C.'s top doc.
Forms of the list show up on Google as being reproduced all over, with varying attribution or none at all, from church newsletters to personal blogs.
Many B.C. residents are sharing the list on their Facebook pages today, however many more are trying to get the word out that the list is not Dr. Henry's.
Dr. Henry's COVID-19 provincial case media updates are published on the Province of British Columbia's website, and reputable sources readily cover the regular press conferences here in B.C. Further, B.C. has a robust online section dedicated to COVID-19, which includes reliable and accurate information.
There is no press conference scheduled for Wednesday, July 15. A representative who assists with media requests for Dr. Henry said the following via email to V.I.A.: "[T]he information was not developed by Dr. Henry nor anyone in her office. While some of the recommendations are similar to her remarks over the past several months, there are inaccuracies and errors in the guidance that is provided. She rather recommends British Columbians refer to the excellent guidance found on the B.C. Centre of Disease Control’s website at www.bccdc.ca and share that information through their social networks."