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“Surgeons operate with masks all day. If you believe masks are harmful, then next time you have surgery, tell your surgeon not to wear a mask because they may fall asleep on the operating table.”

Emory University doctor busts Myths on COVID-19, says COVID-19 a crisis situation in Georgia

First published July 9, 2020
By Kaitlyn Ross

ATLANTA — With COVID cases surging in Georgia, Emory Dr. Carlos del Rio is doing his best to fight the misinformation that’s spreading just as fast as the pandemic.

He sat down with Emory Brain Health’s Jaye Watson to bust some myths about the virus.

They talked about the type of stuff you see when you scroll social media – the untrue articles that get shared thousands of times and are causing real harm to the way people think about COVID-19.

Dr. del Rio said Georgia is close to a breaking point, predicting that ICUs and emergency rooms will be overrun with COVID-19 patients by next week. He said now is the time to stop the spread of the virus.

“Surgeons operate with masks all day,” he pushed back. “If you believe [masks are harmful], next time you have surgery, tell your surgeon not to wear a mask because they may fall asleep on the operating table or do something wrong as a result of this. This is a made up science, it’s not a reality.”

Del Rio said wearing a mask and social distancing are the two best things you can do to protect your family.

“If we don’t stop transmission of the virus, we are never getting back to normal,” he said pointedly. “So, forget your conspiracy theories. Do the right thing, so we can stop transmission of the virus.”

“Number one, you don’t need to confront this virus, you can actually avoid it,” he said. “It’s not going to come up and assault your house. It’s going to come up because you’re close to somebody who’s infected.”

Georgia set a new record in hospitalizations Thursday, with 2,322 people logged as receiving treatment. He worries the numbers will only go up if people aren’t careful.

Del Rio warned that Georgia is just a few days behind Texas and Florida for hospitalization rates, and by next week the state could be in real trouble. 

“When you go to the hospital and the hospitals are full and they can’t take care of you, don’t complain. Just realize that you’re part of the problem,” he said.


Del Rio said when people compare COVID-19 to the seasonal flu, they’re just wrong.

“The data are very very clear,” he said. “COVID is twenty times deadlier than the flu… Especially if you’re over the age of 65, in particular, if you happen to be diabetic, or have hypertension.”

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