Don't Panic Revisited

If someone were to read our blog entries, they might be wondering; what do you have to say about “Coronavirus” or “COVID19” now, You&Me? You were all about not panicking a couple of weeks ago, but what about now?

We still have the same advice: Don’t panic.

Don’t make any mistake. We are not advocating that anyone deliberately go out and catch a potentially serious respiratory illness. But we are also saying that yes, the snowball of CYA and hysteria and media hype has produced an amazing reaction to what is actually not a very novel threat at all.

Every year a fast-spreading debilitating respiratory infection sweeps through our nation, sickening millions and killing at least 15,000 to 40,000 Americans, especially the elderly and those with underlying serious health conditions. It is of course, “the flu” a fact that currently seems to make many people actually angry when they are reminded of this. Those people need to realize that comparing this virus to those viruses doesn’t mean that either one is trivial. But if we and our government are going to be rational in responding to viral threats we would shut down sports, ban gatherings, cancel flights and conferences, and so on every single year.

Maybe we should. Stay home every winter, never go on a cruise, and don’t bring your disease-vector children to visit their grandparents, ever. We would save thousands and thousands of lives.

We would save thousands of lives.

But we won’t ever do it. Humans are very bad at threat assessment, which is not new knowledge.

Governments are retailing the worst-case scenarios, because that’s win-win for them. The worst that can happen is that they are right. In the more likely occurrence that the ultimate doomsday predictions don’t come true, they can take credit for that. And our media isn’t helping, with its context free lists of illnesses and deaths. Here’s some context: The first confirmed case of “coronavirus” in the United States was on January 21, 2020. Since that time about 85 people in the country are reported to have died of the infection.

That’s bad for them and their loved ones and in no way trivial. But during that same time span, approximately 6,215 Americans died by suicide. 85 versus 6,215! Where’s the emergency? Where is the emergency funding, the congressional hearings, the public horror, or the commitment to making the significant changes in our lifestyles and mental health treatment system necessary to address this?

We don’t need any new health threats, of course. And if we decide to shut down the country this will be very effective in slowing the spread of any virus, even one that will give most people at worst a bad cold, but could lead to a fairly large number of older or sicker people needing hospital treatment. It will stall of the spread until April, when the warmer weather will naturally slow the virus’s ability to infect. And then, undoubtedly, when all these CYA doomsday scenarios don’t happen, we will all pat ourselves on the back and say, “Mission accomplished.”

We would just like to see some attention paid to those 16,000 plus flu deaths, many of which could be prevented by similar measures, or doing something about the 48,000 suicides we suffer in America every year.


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