Universal precautions

How much is fact and how much is fear when it comes to COVID-19?

Each passing day brings another wave of drama in the ever-evolving saga that is the coronavirus. But how much of the noise can we really filter out? | Image: Lucrezia Carnelos

This is probably not something that’s going to fit with the status quo and the mass hysteria surrounding the coronavirus.

But I think we’re all grossly overreacting. 

Look, I get it, this thing is not to be taken lightly. Any strain of virus that could kill you depending on your age or level of immunity frankly is something we need to be proactive about. And honestly, the proactivity from epidemiologists and others trained to keep a close eye on this and, hopefully, develop a vaccine is vital. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this virus has affected 121,656 worldwide and has led to the deaths of 4,382 people. As of March 11, when I sat down to write this…there were 647 cases of the coronavirus that have amounted to 25 deaths in the United States. 

On Tuesday, Philadelphia received its first case, so we can no longer watch the spread from afar.  

“I wish instead of the hype train on TV and across social media, there was an outlet putting perspective on this virus. Showcasing all of the other viruses out there equally as harmful that we never concern our already worried minds about because it’s not in your face every time you turn on the TV.”

But here’s the thing. No one is putting this into perspective. According to CDC numbers, the  2019-20 flu season — that’s right, just regular-ass influenza — has amounted for close to 620,000 hospitalizations and up to an estimated 50,000 deaths in America alone. 

That’s the perspective I think the mainstream media isn’t promoting in between showing hand sanitizer flying off the shelves, the dumbfounded faces of politicians and the sheer overflow of information that leads to the end truth — we still just don’t know what the hell this is yet and just how much of a “pandemic” it really is. 

I think instead of looking to calm the masses, the exact opposite is happening, the unknown is causing fear, fear is causing panic on pretty much every level — interpersonal panic, financial panic and the ‘holy shit, do I have it?’ question we’re all asking just because of a stuffy nose and a persistent cough. 

I wish instead of the hype train on TV and across social media, there was an outlet putting perspective on this virus. Showcasing all of the other viruses out there equally as harmful that we never concern our already worried minds about because it’s not in your face every time you turn on the TV. 

Technology has already removed the human element of people speaking with each other on a daily basis since you can’t go anywhere without finding someone’s head buried into a smartphone screen instead of looking up and saying hello to the people around them. Hey, I’m guilty of it too and the knowledge of this systematic hardwiring ingrained in our DNA doesn’t make it suck any less. 

Now, we have this virus to contend with that removes a physical element of the people we do choose to chat with as we’re all reticent to shake hands or even give a fist bump. I’m hoping that this is one of those “this too shall pass” kind of an event and everything that I’ve read seems to trend in that direction. 

But it’s very disconcerting that people are being force-fed fear-mongering and not the alternatives to consider. But the alternatives don’t drive television ratings, don’t allow for 24-7 news stories to flow on Twitter and don’t allow for price gouging of face masks and hand sanitizers. 

I was in CVS the other day and a lady was irate that they didn’t have anymore sanitizer in stock. She noted that the store was the third she’d been to in the area that was fresh out. 

“How could a giant company like CVS not keep this stuff in stock at a time like this?” she said. 

I wanted to say, “because of people like you,” but chose to keep my opinion to myself on this one. It wouldn’t have moved the needle on anything and frankly, I didn’t want her setting it off on me in the store. But if I could’ve offered her and the rest of us this piece of polarizing advice as a small piece of the larger media pie? 

Keep calm and wash your damn hands.