Coronavirus fact check: What you need to know about the virus

Cleaning supplies were sparse at a Twin Cities area Target store Sunday amidst coronavirus fears. (FOX 9)

Each and every day it seems Minnesotans are inundated with information about the novel coronavirus and some people are confused about what statistics to believe.

You may have heard of the shortage in medical masks and some online retailers inflating the price of those left in stock. While cases are spreading, federal officials are urging people not to panic just yet.

In Eden Prairie, Target’s shelves were emptied of medicine, face masks, antibacterials and bleach.

Before you panic, however, there’s a lot you should know.

Question 1: Will a facemask protect me from contracting coronavirus?

Answer: No.

The Centers for Disease Control say if you’re not in direct contact with an infected individual, facemasks are ineffective.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Surgeon General even took to Twitter to urge people to stop buying masks. They warned that it could create a shortage for medical professionals who truly need them.

3M ramps up production of masks due to increased demand related to coronavirus

Minnesota-based company 3M is ramping up its production of medical masks as the response to the novel coronavirus outbreak has increased demand.

Question 2: Is the coronavirus a death sentence?

Answer: No.

While it is dangerous for those with weaker immune systems, the majority of the population will get sick and recover.

That said, while the common flu kills more people a year, it is true that the mortality rate with coronavirus is about ten times higher. It’s still much lower than that of SARS and MERS.

Question 3: Can the virus live on packages and mail?

Answer: No.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the virus is transmitted by droplets from sneezes and coughs and cannot live on surfaces long.

Question 4: Should I cancel upcoming travel?

Answer: It depends.

Federal officials are currently discouraging travel to China and South Korea and they’re urging extra precautions be taken for travel to Italy, Japan, Iran and Hong Kong.

Question 5: Will there be a vaccine?

Answer: Yes.

A vaccine is in the works, but the soonest it could be ready is a year from now. Producing enough to meet global demand is expected to take another 6-8 months. There’s a lot of fear and confusion here, but truly the best thing you can do is wash your hands frequently, sanitize surfaces, cover your cough and stay home if you’re sick.