It’s disconcerting to see how politicized the coronavirus issue has become, though in the highly polarized environment we live in, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise. Depending on the media source we choose, people are either excessively panicking or posting ignorance that suggests coronavirus is a non-issue or just another flu. Both are wrong. Panic is a self-fulfilling prophecy and can only make matters worse. However, I doubt anyone will die because the NBA season got cancelled or because there is a rush on toilet paper. COVID-19 creates a very dangerous situation, but it CAN be contained if we act intelligently. Italy, a country with one-sixth of the population of the USA, recorded its first case on January 31st. As of yesterday, 21,157 people in that country have tested positive, 1,996 have already fully recovered, but 1,441 have died. It shouldn’t take a genius to understand that this is not an ordinary flu – and because it’s a new disease, there are no vaccines and many details about it are still not fully understood.
The news from China, where the virus first began, is looking more optimistic. Emergency medical facilities have closed, Starbucks, Apple, and other major retailers have reopened, and the new infection rate has gone from 15,000 cases per week to only 15. Social distancing works and the actions recommended by the CDC and the WHO appear to be effective. In the U.S. we were less prepared. Not enough people are getting tested and the biggest risk is if the virus spreads so fast it overwhelms our medical system, many more people will die who wouldn’t have if they had access to proper treatment. This is why professional sports, schools, and companies have cancelled events, in-person activities where a lot of people gather, and other places where the virus can spread more rapidly. The New York Times published an article on how these actions can slow the spread of the virus and give our medical system the time to treat the disease reducing the harm it ultimately does to our country. We can still contain this if we act swiftly and decisively.
Now is the time to support one another, not to bicker… Now is the time to check in with family members who may have drifted from your life. Now is the time for random acts of kindness. Now is the time to patronize small, independently owned businesses. The big guys will be fine; the little guys always get hurt the most. Our economy will suffer in the short run, but will emerge stronger and hopefully smarter than before. Our country has always been great in times of crisis and I believe the same will apply this time around. Please take the time to learn the facts and participate in prevention.