Don't Catch 'Em All: Avoiding COVID-19 While Playing

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Image Credit: Bulbapedia

In the main series of Pokemon games, any Pokemon that you catch has a 1 in 21,178.6 chance of having a virus. This very rare virus is called "Pokerus", and easily spreads from Pokemon to Pokemon from just one single case that you randomly find in the wild or have traded to you, and can eventually spread to every Pokemon in your boxes if they're exposed to it via your team. But what does this virus do when an unfortunate Pokemon catches it?

It makes them grow faster!

Yup, this is a friendly little virus that actually allows Pokemon to gain EVs (think IVs but earned in battles instead of being a part of the Pokemon) faster than normal. It has absolutely no down-sides, and is a genuinely sought-after trait in Pokemon. On top of that, it only lasts a few days if a Pokemon is kept out of storage, and once cured the Pokemon never catches it again!

It would be amazing if diseases like Pokerus were something that we could "catch" in real life. However, viruses tend to be detrimental to our health more often than not. And among those viruses, the COVID-19 virus or Coronavirus seems to be the largest threat to us at the moment. Media attention and sources are going crazy about this virus right now, and it has many people frightened, including those in the Pokemon Go community. In fact, Niantic just announced that Safari Zone St. Louis has been postponed due to concerns over the virus.

So we'd like to take a little time to look at ways that we can stay safe while raiding, enjoying PVP, and taking part in any of the more social aspects of the game that we love in order to make sure that we're able to avoid this disease while we play!

Know the Facts

To begin with, let's set one thing in stone: we are a community! Every time we go out to raid or join a PvP tournament, we're doing so as a community. Every time we go out walking in a public place while hitting Pokestops and catching whatever we can, we are a remote part of this community. As such, we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to keep this thing from spreading. Our community has done amazing works in the past, so let's work towards making the Pokemon Go Community a fire-break for this virus so that we can keep ourselves and others safe!

The internet is abuzz with rumors and misleading information about this virus. This has lead to quite a bit of confusion in regards to what is and is not true. Some of these rumors are harmless though ineffective, while others could put you at more risk to the virus or other issues. This is why we recommend that you get your information from a reliable source. Here are a few examples:

These are the primary sources for this article and, frankly, if you look at them then there's really no reason to read on. They have basically all of the info on this highly condensed article and a lot more. We do appreciate it if you continue, though!

It's been established that the virus is not airborne, it's spread through saliva and other particulates from an infected individual via coughing, sneezing, etc. This is why you've probably read that we shouldn't hoard masks. Just be sure to keep this in mind next time you're out at a raid!

Wash Your Hands... And Your Phone!

If you've paid any attention to the spread of this disease, you've probably encountered this one many, many times:

  • Any time you go out around other people, wash your hands
  • Be sure to wash them for at least 20 seconds!
  • Dry with a clean towel
  • If you can't wash your hand, use 60% alcohol or higher hand cleaner

...but let's talk about this in more Pokemon Go terms. When most of us go out for raids, we tend to board "raid trains" that hit multiple raids, so we can't very easily wash our hands very frequently. This might be a good time to keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you for emergencies. Just remember two things:

  1. Don't hoard hand sanitizer, everyone needs a chance to get some too
  2. Don't over-use hand sanitizer, as that can cause problems too.

Beyond this, what's the one thing that you always have with you when playing Pokemon Go? Your Phone!

Or tablet, or whatever else you may use to play

Most of us use our phones every day, and with all of those tiny crevices and broad surfaces, it can become a major holding-ground for diseases. Be sure to occasionally wipe down your phone with an electronics-safe disinfectant to keep it clean!

When to Seek Help

Image Source: Bulbapedia

While the virus isn't terribly common in many areas of the world, it does have the potential to spread very quickly, so don't just assume that all's well if you're feeling a bit off. The main issue to watch out for is trouble breathing, as this virus loves to hit the lungs. If you're sick and having trouble breathing, it's probably best to just skip this raid and go seek some help. It was probably just another 86% anyway....

The Hard Part: Don't Touch Your Face!

Simply put; if the virus can't get inside you, then it can't do anything to you. Based on that fact, it makes sense that keeping your hands away from your face is the best defense!

All of those little itches and annoyances that come on randomly? Try not to scratch them without washing your hands first. Getting hungry and want to snack? Wash your hands first. Basically, wash your hands before touching any entrance to your body, or anything that will touch the entrance to your body.

How to Stay Safe

Yes, this has basically just been the same article that most websites have up in regards to the Coronavirus. So let's go farther and go into a bit more Pokemon Go-Specific advice!

  • Wear a mask when out playing to help protect yourself and others
  • When playing with others, maintain a bit of distance from your fellow players if possible. Don't be rude, but stand back a bit
  • If you're raiding, consider staying in your car. Don't be anti-social about it, but you're pretty safe in your own vehicle assuming no one with the virus has been in it as well
  • Keep an eye out for people coughing or sneezing. We're going into Spring in the northern hemisphere, so people may just have allergies or a good old-fashioned cold, but be aware
  • Don't hand over your phone to people that you're not confident are healthy. And if you do, be sure to sterilize it and your hands after
  • Pay attention to your local raid group. If someone talks about being sick, maybe skip that raid.
  • Stay warm and dry while raiding. While it's true that getting cold and/or wet won't cause a cold or flu, it can weaken your immune system and make it easier for viruses to attack you


Our only goal with this is to help make the community aware of the threat and try to give a bit of advice as to how you can keep from catching this virus. It's considered enough of a looming threat that Niantic is canceling events and Safari Zones out of fear of its spread, so it has effected our community at this point. Now it's our responsibility to help keep this virus from spreading as best we can.

We have a lot of scary information, but right now it's important to be aware, but not afraid. This world has seen and survived pandemics like this in the past, and eventually this will be no different. For now, let's all just agree to have fun, and be safe!

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization with a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.