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Overcoming infodemic amid this pandemic


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – What is infodemic? Basically, it’s information overload. And since the coronavirus outbreak, a heavy dose of accurate and inaccurate information.   

On the web, Facebook, Twitter, and television — coronavirus dominates.    

A warning from The World Health Organization of an infodemic — in this case a global epidemic of misinformation.  

“It can be problematic because people don’t exactly know what to make of that information. How to sort through it, ” says Dr. Jaimie Meyer, an infectious disease specialist with Yale Medicine, concerned that many of us are not taking the time to vet what we are consuming.  

 “You really need to not just take people at their word.  If you really want to understand, you need to go back to the original source, the original data and weigh it a little bit.”

The hype surrounding anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine she says, to treating COVID-19, led to a deadly outcome.        

“There’s a fish tank cleaner that has chloroquine in it.  It’s not the same type of chloroquine that’s the anti-malarial drug but it has that component in it and a guy in Arizona overdosed on it.”

There’s also this high risk info circulating.    

“People using these things called ozone machines, to clean their air, to purify their air of COVID-19 and not only is it not effective but potentially dangerous as well.”  

Dr. Meyer points out that the flip side to this is burnout, which is equally as dangerous.  

“Tired of the news or tired of Twitter and whatever else and they tune out, then they stop behaving in a way that’s safe.”

So what’s the best way to fight off message fatigue? Take it, one bite at a time.

“Hopefully from reliable sources, whether it’s the CDC, or the World Health Organization or something like  that, digest a little bit of it and when you start to feel overwhelmed and burned out, step away.  Then come back for a snack later.”   

Dr. Meyer says we are still in the middle of a pandemic so this is not the time to tune out.

Be vigil about staying home, staying safe, social distancing, and washing those hands.   

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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