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The rumor: The latest generation of cellular network technology, 5G, has inspired conspiracy theories in the past, with people claiming the radio waves can cause cancer, among other things. Now that the coronavirus is the biggest public health crisis in the world, conspiracy theorists are claiming that 5G is contributing to the problem, either by weakening peoples’ immune systems or even transmitting the virus. The theory is getting boosted by celebrities like Woody Harrelson, and arsonists have set fire to a number of 5G antennas in the United Kingdom, prompting YouTube to remove 5G conspiracy videos. The truth: First, let’s tackle the idea that 5G can transmit the virus. At the moment, public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe the transmission mechanism like so: “The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” It should be noted that 5G is a spectrum of electromagnetic waves, not droplets. Although viruses can survive for a limited time outside of a host, it’s generally a short period (research indicates that coronavirus can survive for up to 72 hours on stainless steel or plastic surfaces). There is no evidence that radio waves can transmit the virus, nor that 5G towers could sustain the virus for any significant amount of time.

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