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Coronavirus in Florida

Florida official recommends blow dryer at your face to combat coronavirus; don’t do that

To be clear, health officials do not support this junk preventative method.

An Okeechobee County Commissioner offered some controversial and now-debunked advice to people worried about contracting the novel coronavirus: Kill it with a blow dryer.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper explained the junk remedy he learned from the One America News Network claiming the coronavirus cannot live at temperatures greater than 136 degrees.

“I said how would you get the temperature up to 136 degrees? The answer was you use a blow dryer. You hold a blow dryer up to your face and you inhale through your nose and it kills all the viruses in your nose,” Bryant said during a March 20 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commissioners, according to Lake Okeechobee News.

To be clear, health officials do not support this preventative method.

Worse, they caution applying heat from a blow dryer to the face could cause skin, eye, nose and mouth irritation.

The World Health Organization website notes that hair dryers are not effective in killing the COVID-19 virus. While the websites “mythbusters” tab does not directly mention aiming a hair dryer at the nose to thwart the virus, it does list hot baths and hand dryers as ineffective methods of killing the virus and notes that the most effective way to stay safe is to regularly wash hands and avoid contact with others who are potentially infected.

Pish posh, says Culpepper.

“One of the things that was pointed out in this interview with one of the foremost doctors who has studied the coronavirus said that the nasal passages and the nasal membranes are the coolest part of the body. That’s why the virus tends to go there until it then becomes healthy enough to go into the lungs,” Culpepper said of the home remedy that’s been widely debunked.

The video Culpepper referenced was shared widely on Facebook and appears to have been removed, likely because of its shoddy science. The video was also removed from YouTube.

Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told the New York Times there is some research indicating that warming the nasal passage could help combat a virus, other remedies “like sitting over a bowl of hot soup” are a better idea than blasting hot air in your face.

The proposed bunk remedy was shared so widely, the fact checking organization Snopes even tackled it, rating the claim false.

Culpepper’s public sharing of debunked medical advice is nothing new, but it’s indicative of the mass hysteria surrounding a global pandemic as individuals seek any precaution they can find.

But as the infection rate in Florida has now reached 763, health officials continue to offer the same advice — wash hands, stay home when possible, avoid traveling to areas with high infection rates and if sick, avoid contact with other people.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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