As the United States approaches the 22-month mark in the COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials warn inconsistent, incorrect information regarding various elements of the global health crisis continues to plague the community.

With confusion over testing, quarantine, vaccination, and more, representatives from the Rock Island County Health Department set out to clarify the January 2022 COVID-19 protocol.

“The CDC, your local health department and other trusted health partners should be your source of information in this pandemic and not necessarily a meme you see on Facebook,” said Janet Hill, the chief operating officer for the Rock Island County Health Department.

Hill warns rampant social media use and fixation can lead susceptible viewers to pick up dangerously inaccurate information.

“They [COVID-19 tests] are not vaccines — they are nasal swabs,” Hill said, regarding conspiracy theories suggesting the lab tests were more than testing for the virus.

Quarantine has become a focal point for pandemic mitigation efforts — and for confusion. The CDC just recently changed the recommended period of isolation after testing positive for the virus. “The new guidance is that people who test positive should isolate for 5 days after that positive test… or at the onset of symptoms,” Hill said.

Along with testing and quarantining, masking has been a source of contention across the Quad Cities community and the country. Those residing on the Illinois side of the river are required to wear face coverings inside buildings, whereas those on the Iowa side are not.

As cases of the Omicron and Delta variants of the virus continue to spread at increasing rates throughout the community, Hill recommends everyone in the QCA mask up.

“If you’re in a highly contagious area of the country — which is every place — maybe you should consider wearing a surgical mask under the cloth mask,” Hill said.