No, you cannot make sanitizer out of Tito’s vodka and hand gel

In times of panic and crises, such as the one at hand, rumors spread at warp speed, fueled in near equal parts by their own ludicrousness and the people’s urgent wishes for them to be true, wishes that preclude folks from doing even a few strokes of a Googly research.  Here are a few that have been circulating as the coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread with no hope of a quick ending.

You can make hand sanitizer out of Tito’s Handmade Vodka and hand gel.

No, you can’t. The Centers for Disease Control says you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Tito’s clocks in at 40% and, anyway, it’s a crazy way to go to get alcohol into your hand gel. Further, why Tito’s? If you could make hand sanitizer out of vodka, it would make more sense to use a lower-shelf brand like Popov, Kamchatka or Wolfshmidt.

People aren’t buying Corona beer because of the coronavirus, because, you know, ‘corona’ virus.

One of the key driving forces behind urban legends is the profound wish of people to believe that it’s true, and it’s a glorious feeling to believe with all your heart that there are people who think that one of Corona beer’s chief ingredients is the coronavirus. And while undoubtedly there are such people in this world, the rumor hasn’t taken a big swig out of Corona’s sales. It’s true that Corona’s ownership, Constellation Brands, has experienced some losses of late, but what company hasn’t (besides Clorox and Acme Face Mask Corp.)? According to Barron’s, Constellation’s stock is down about 6% year to date—putting it ahead of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500, both of which are down about 10% over the same span. Constellation also noted that Corona beer sales rose 5% over the four-week period ending Feb. 16.

You should sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice while washing your hands.

Absolutely false. Well, not absolutely false, but there are plenty of options of song snippets to croon without wishing no one in particular a happy birthday. This is a case in which social media really shines. BuzzFeed has collected 19 20-second substitutes to sing while soaping your hands in Tito’s vodka, ranging from Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” to “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” though they leave out our go-to opening of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”

Popping bubble wrap from China packages can release deadly Chinese air filled with coronavirus.

One would hope not, because there’s no way that people will ever be able to resist popping bubble wrap. The very idea that popping bubble wrap from China or anywhere else could be hazardous originally appeared in a North Carolina satirical Facebook post and, though the post was labeled as satire and has since been removed, the rumor has spread quickly because of people’s inability to understand satire even a little bit. Pop away!

It’s OK to refer to the coronavirus as Wuhan Disease

It is not OK. In February, the World Health Organization named the illness COVID-19, a name that was deliberately chosen so that it wouldn’t stigmatize a specific place or group of people. The “co” stands for corona, referring to the family of viruses that the disease belongs to and is named for its crown-like shapes under a microscope. “vi” is for virus, “d” is for disease, and “19” refers to the year it was first identified. “We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual, or a group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” according to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO.

I should stockpile water like crazy.

Well, just judging from the crowds at Costco, yes, as much as you can hold on your property. While experts might squabble about things you should stock up on in the event of quarantine, such as toilet paper, medications, soap and canned picnic ham, most agree that water should be among the least of your already plentiful worries, chiefly because the water out of your tap is still a thing, including in Wuhan, where the water is still running.

The Chinese created a weaponized version of coronavirus and lost control of it.

Oh, you mean the sci-fi/comedy/horror genre Lab Experiments Gone Horribly Wrong? Yeah, that’s box-office gold, but there’s no evidence of that being true in the case of this particular coronavirus and, at any rate, if you’re going to create a killer virus, you’d go with a stronger, more virulent strain, in which case we’d all be dead by now.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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