“Can we please not talk about the coronavirus?”
That’s how a recent meeting in my office began. Of course, we then proceeded to talk about the coronavirus for the entire meeting.
Karen from Accounting lost her mind and felt the need to lecture the entire department on ways to prepare. To summarize her lecture: the end is near. Bum-rush the grocery stores and stockpile non-perishable food items and toiletries.
She had me feeling like I was on an episode of Doomsday Preppers.
I raised my hand and asked her who she was pulling for in the upcoming Hunger Games. My perfectly-timed sarcasm was met with a soul-piercing, stoic glare.
I got laughs from like 90% of the room, and became the newest member of Karen’s hit list.
Chill out, Karen. Stop hoarding toilet paper. You’re not going to die. Or poop that much. Stay off the message boards, and maybe have 4 cups of coffee instead of your usual 8.
In all seriousness, the coronavirus (a.k.a. COVID-19) is on everyone’s mind. The media has made sure of that.
At the center of this great coronavirus phenomenon is a tightly wound ball of fear and anxiety. Never mind the calm rationality of legitimate statistics that put the disease into perspective.
According to the media, a big toxic cloud of coronavirus is currently drifting across great oceanic expanses just to come and park itself over your town.
They’ve made this out to be the next Bubonic Plague. The mass hysteria facilitated by the media is way more dangerous than the actual virus itself.
I’m here to calm your nerves and clear up rumors in these seemingly unsettling times.
The Bad News Business
The news media knows how to get your attention. It’s their business. They’re in it for the views, for the ratings. If you don’t watch, they don’t exist.
There’s a reason why the vast majority of reported news is bad news.
Humans are designed to spot negativity, it’s a survival mechanism hard-wired into our brains. It’s just a fact that we give more weight to bad news.
I mean, any time words like “pandemic” get thrown around all willy-nilly, people are going to respond.
Doom and gloom is to the media as water is to a fish.
In actuality, there’s never been a better time to be alive. We live in the safest and most peaceful era in human history, but you’d never know it.
Don’t believe me? Go ahead and give it a Google. I’ll wait.
The Coronavirus is Coming. Prepare Yourselves!
Full disclosure: I’m not a doctor or anything. I’m just an advocate of common sense.
Media-driven fear has overtaken rational thought. The fears about this disease far exceed reality. You’re more likely to die of the flu or a bolt of lightning than the coronavirus.
However, despite my light and whimsical tone, I gotta keep it real with you. You’re probably going to be exposed to the coronavirus in the coming weeks.
Actually, you may have already been exposed to it, but you just don’t know it. There’s a good chance this thing is already widespread across most of the United States.
Remember that cold you got last week? That may have been the coronavirus.
Ahhh, ignorance is bliss.
Continuing to keep it real, I have to let you know that I too bought-in to all the fear mongering at first.
I’ve lived with anxiety for most of my life and the thought of a slow death via plague was like throwing gasoline on a fire.
Fortunately, we live in a time where knowledge is abundant. Thanks to the interwebs, you can instantly find the answer to literally any question that pops into your head.
Remember how I mentioned we live in the greatest era of human history? You’re reading this on a device more powerful than the computers that sent the first astronauts to the moon.
Sadly, so many people take this for granted. Instead of using technology to obtain knowledge, they use their personal pocket-sized supercomputers to spread panic on social media. It’s easy to see why anxiety and depression are running rampant today.
I combat my anxiety with knowledge. When something worries me, I research it and research it some more. I learn all I can about it.
I take into account both ends of the spectrum, the extremes. Through the years, I’ve discovered that the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.
This coronavirus stuff is no different.
The Truth About COVID-19
During my coronavirus research, I came across an interview with Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist who has helped develop guidelines for similar disease outbreaks. I learned more from that conversation than all of my previous research combined.
It’s on YouTube, and you can check it out here: Coronavirus Lecture with Dr. Amesh Adalja.
Basically, Dr. Adalja exposes the truth. He explains that there are many different types of coronaviruses and they’re everywhere, peaking in winter. Nearly every living person has had a coronavirus in their lifetime, including you.
Here’s the thing about COVID-19: there’s a major severity bias. We only hear about a very small number of severe cases because the severe cases are the only ones that end up in the hospital to get tested.
We don’t hear about the people who have a mild cough and congestion for a week, but it goes away so they dismiss it as a cold and never visit a doctor. This represents the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases.
Most people who get the coronavirus never know they have it.
It’s true that COVID-19 is highly contagious, but most cases are clinically indistinguishable from the common cold or the flu.
Unless you’re over the age of 75, or immunocompromised, you don’t have to worry about dying from this stuff. As of this writing, COVID-19 has a low 2-3% mortality rate. As low as that number is, it’s still massively inflated. In reality, the mortality rate is more like .2 or .1%.
How to protect yourself
The virus can survive for a couple of hours and possibly longer on surfaces or objects, which you can then touch and become infected. Make it a habit to wash your hands any time you’ve been out in public, and certainly before you eat or touch your face.
Really, just wash your hands frequently. It’s that simple. Hand sanitizers will work in a pinch, but make sure you’re using a sanitizer with an alcohol content of over 60%.
If it seems like I’m downplaying the seriousness of the situation, it’s because I am. This is nothing to freak out about.
Yes, pay attention and keep your wits about you, but use basic common sense. Don’t buy-in to the media hype.
If you have concerns, do your own research. There’s an infinite amount of information available at your fingertips.
And for the love of God, if you’ve got the flu, stomach virus, coronavirus, rhinovirus, elephantvirus, Ebola, whatever. Stay home!