Here’s why I disagree.
Ok friends, it’s time to get serious for a minute. You all know that I love a good coronavirus meme as much as the next person (Ok, MORE, I know. . . ) I’ve been curating a collection of still-barely-acceptable toilet paper memes for the past two weeks. I’ve done impromptu interviews with Costco shoppers and employees alike about toilet paper rations, the number of packages sold in the past two hours, and why people are hoarding bottled water like we’re entering the bubonic plague, even though I’m pretty sure our taps will still work when the virus makes its vicious attack. (Or maybe they just really like Evian?)
And no, I wasn’t interviewing these flustered people at Costco for a media organization. It was purely out of my fascination with what I’ve deemed #coronacraziness.
But despite my dumbfoundedness over the nation’s current shopping frenzy, when it gets right down to it, I’m convinced this virus is no joke. Let me say right up front that I’m all about the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mentality. There’s been no sense in getting all crazy over this yet (or buying 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer like these two yahoos did), so I’ve readily carried the banner for the ‘keep calm’ mentality. . . until today.
Because in between my meme-collecting, I’ve done what I always do in the middle of a national emergency — endlessly read the news. You know, the kind of news-reading that involves at least 15 browser windows, a dozen different news sources, and obviously, social media. Duh. Isn’t that where all the best news articles come from?
As a result, over the past two weeks I’ve firmly believed that the day was coming soon when it would be time to hunker down, stop searching for toilet paper, and ride this thing out at home. And sure enough, it seems that day is here. (Granted, the President calling for a State of Emergency across the entire country is a pretty good indicator our time is up.)
The possibility of entering a ‘war zone’ got my attention early on
My husband Scott and I were scheduled to go to Italy on March 28th, just about 10 days from now. When I first heard about all the commotion in China involving this aggressive new virus, I didn’t pay too much attention. But soon enough the world’s attention turned to Italy, which to this date has the world’s second-highest rate of coronavirus infection. And that’s when things changed. The thought of potentially being quarantined in a foreign country caused me to sit up and start paying attention in a big way.
I have an overly ADD-focused brain anyway, and when something captures my attention, it really captures my attention. (Contrary to popular belief, ADDers can have just as much of an issue with hyperfocus as we do with lack of focus.) At that point, the hyperfocus took hold, and I became a coronavirus news junkie.
I have to admit, I’ve probably read well over a hundred news articles about the coronavirus over the past month, from a wide variety of news sources. Therefore, my thoughts and opinions are not based on one far-right or far-left news channel’s output. I refuse to believe one news outlet’s spin on national or world events. That seems like a head-in-the-sand approach, and we’ll never actually form our own opinions if we leave it up to others to tell us what to believe.
What is going on on social media??
In the midst of all this, I have become increasingly perplexed over the newsfeed content on my social media accounts. I’ve felt genuinely confused. Almost like I’m having an out-of-body experience in someone else’s newsfeed. I’ve wondered if all the people I’ve known for years are under some sort of Fox News hypnosis.
Because for whatever reason, I keep hearing things from my friends that make me wonder how they can be either entirely skeptical, disturbingly unconcerned, or both regarding the coronavirus. In my circle of friends and social media acquaintances, is it really just me that believes it’s time to take this thing seriously? Please! Earth to Mars! Tell me there’s a sign of intelligent life down here!
I live in a very conservative part of the United States. A place that for some bizarre reason continues to believe that Donald Trump is actually sane. And for the record, I also have traditional conservative values and political views. I’m not going to launch into my thoughts on Donald Trump today, as there is far too much material for that, so I’ll save that topic for another time. (Or not, if I want to make sure I keep my friends). But my point is, I have long believed that my thinking was pretty similar to the majority of my fellow conservative neighbors. Until now.
Instead, I continue to hear and see people say things like this all day every day:
“This whole coronavirus thing is a joke.”
“It’s nothing more than a conspiracy to hurt Trump in an election year.”
“It’s Russia’s attempt to destroy the economy.”
“Don’t you know the flu kills SO many more people every year?”
“It’s so stupid that they’re canceling everything!”
“Why is everyone overreacting about this? It’s a total media hoax.”
“There’s a virus like this every election year.”
“The only reason we’re even hearing about it is because the media is sensationalizing it to destroy Republicans.”
“This whole thing is overblown, and we’re all going to be fine.”
Yup, I know some of you dear friends of mine are going to realize I’m directly quoting you. And I sure hope you won’t mind that I’m not giving you credit. I wouldn’t want to be quoted as having said such things either, so I’m going to give you all a pass on being quoted right now. You’ll thank me later. And don’t worry — if you know you said something like this to me, you’re not the only one! So please don’t take it personally when I use some of these quotes as the basis for my myth-busting. I simply live to serve. And myth bust, of course.
I’m a person who genuinely will do anything to avoid an argument, so I gladly let people think what they want to think. But I’m willing to say that there is no question in my mind this is a different kind of virus, and that we’ve only just begun to see its effects. I firmly believe that if we don’t all start to follow the leader (meaning your state and local leaders) and willingly park it in our barcaloungers for a while, we’re going to really regret it later. (And if you don’t know what a barcalounger is, call your grandmother. She’d love to hear from you right about now.)
I have seen and heard plenty of what I’d call ‘unreasonable’ thoughts on the coronavirus from the people around me, so if you don’t mind, I’d like to share some of my thoughts with you.
Are we living in a real-life Marvel movie?
Let’s start with action movies! Bear with me; I’m going somewhere with this. I’m sure we’ve all seen movies where the bad guys concoct a biological weapon (say, for example, a deadly virus) that’s intended to kill off half the world’s population. Could that be possible? Absolutely. But I’m not quite ready to step into the Marvel universe and buy into that premise yet.
So far, scientists believe that the coronavirus mimics what we’ve seen in two previous strains of coronavirus — SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. It’s currently believed that all three viruses may have originated in bats. So go ahead and add that to the very long list of the reasons I do not like bats. (And as a side note, since we’re talking about Marvel, isn’t it interesting that Batman was part of the Justice League and not the Marvel Universe? If we have to tie bats to the coronavirus, I’ll put it on the record that I always knew Marvel was better than the Justice League. Food for thought — discuss amongst yourselves.)
While I don’t doubt that an evil mastermind could develop a biological weapon of mass destruction, there’s simply been no evidence of such an egregious and ambitious evil plan yet . . . that we know of. As far as I’m concerned, any belief that the coronavirus is the result of a conspiracy theory or an evil genius’s outrageous plan is highly unlikely.
“People are just out to get Trump!”
What about those dreaded anti-Trumpers? Isn’t half the world out to discredit Trump? Sure, of course they are. But honestly, what does that really have to do with the coronavirus? Do people actually believe that the aforementioned evil geniuses created a deadly virus to destroy the world just to spite Donald Trump? Umm . . . sorry, but I’m not quite buying that yet either. Those people would really have to be insane to go to those extremes. (Kinda like Trump himself, so there’s that to consider.)
And beyond that, let’s try to connect the dots between the two — how on earth is a worldwide virus only going to hurt Trump?
Contrary to many Americans’ beliefs, we are not alone on this planet. There are actually other countries. And any worldwide virus is going to hurt the mild-mannered leaders of countries like Canada and Arendale (wait, that’s not a real country?) just as much as it will hurt the President of the United States.
And to be honest, Trump could have made choices earlier on that would have made him a hero in America’s eyes. Instead, just a few weeks ago, Trump claimed he had this virus completely under control, and that this thing would burn itself out by no later than April. He opted to downplay the virus and tried to convince Americans we had absolutely nothing to worry about.
He disregarded everything his task force of scientists and medical professionals were telling him, including the world’s leading expert on infectious diseases. Those experts had to tip-toe around what the President publicly said to try and let the American public know what was really happening. Can you imagine the balancing act those people must be experiencing? Desperately trying not to get fired by Trump while also being honest with the American people about what’s coming their way? I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.
Yesterday, Trump sheepishly called for people to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more people, and urged people to stay home altogether. Yet somehow, in the same press conference, he still managed to say that he gives himself a 10 out of 10 on his handling of the situation. Amid this shocking display of personal arrogance, which was delivered along with a belated admission that we actually might be heading into a recession, the Dow experienced a drop of nearly 3,000 points — its worst drop in history.
If Trump ends up being hurt by the coronavirus, it’s only because of how he chose to deal with it early on, combined with the lack of any display of true understanding or forthcomingness on the part of our nation’s President. As tends to always be the case, Trump’s worst enemy is himself. Anyone who tries to say it’s the other way around is simply not paying attention.
The election-year virus theory
Speaking of political connections, isn’t it crazy that this is happening again in an election year? I’m sure you’ve all heard about how there’s always a scary new virus every election year. Just think about it — SARS in 2004, avian flu in 2008, swine flu in 2010, MERS in 2012, Ebola in 2014 and 2018, Zika in 2016, and the coronavirus in 2020. It must be another form of conspiracy. OR, maybe not.
The website PolitiFact has investigated those claims and managed to scientifically debunk the theory. Their research found that “most of these diseases were discovered and spread before the election years. Some of the diseases never impacted the United States, and never came up as a large point in a campaign. There is some evidence that Ebola in 2014 impacted the election, but otherwise there is no straightforward connection between national U.S. elections and pandemics.” Their final verdict? The election-year virus connection theory is FALSE.
“Everyone’s just overreacting — the flu kills WAY more people every year.”
The argument I’ve heard far more than any other is about how the flu has killed so many more people in our country than the coronavirus. Well, obviously — for now. But that’s only because the day of reckoning hasn’t come yet.
In an NBC News article by Elizabeth Chuck, she writes “While President Donald Trump has repeatedly compared the coronavirus to seasonal influenza, experts say the coronavirus can be more insidious for several reasons: It is more contagious; it has a higher mortality rate; and, unlike the flu, currently there is no vaccine for it. ‘We have much more capability and expertise to treat and prevent the flu that we don’t yet have with coronavirus,’ said Dr. Sankar Swaminathan, virologist and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Utah Health.”
While it’s true that most people who get COVID-19 will recover without too much trouble, we’re dealing with a virus that isn’t playing by the rules we are used to and understand. The coronavirus is a rogue competitor, and we’re dealing with a lot of unknowns. This isn’t like our usual seasonal virus, influenza. So before dismissing the potential devastation the coronavirus might create, think about the fact that humans have lived with the flu (influenza) for more than 100 years. That’s 100 years we as humans have had to develop some sort of immunity to the flu’s most harsh symptoms.
In a PolitiFact interview with Christopher Mores, a professor of global health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University, Mores stated “You know, the risk is this: We have a brand-new virus in a completely naive population on Earth, we’re all susceptible to it. Everyone is potentially infectable with this virus,” he said. “Even with a high transmission rate and the low case fatality rate, that still becomes a massive number of ill and fatal cases.”
There’s no question that the flu kills far more people than the coronavirus — so far. But that’s only because the coronavirus hasn’t had a chance to show up and do its dirty work yet. And that’s not a competition we should encourage in any way if we know what’s good for us.
The coronavirus has an unusual incubation rate
While the flu has an incubation rate of 1–4 days on average and can vary from person to person, the average incubation rate is considered to be two days. The incubation rate refers to the number of days it takes for a person to show signs of sickness after they’ve been exposed to a virus. In contrast, the coronavirus’s incubation rate is longer and is currently estimated at anywhere from 2 days to 14 days, with the average incubation period estimated to be about five days.
What does that mean for us? It means that if we’re unknowingly walking around in an early stage of the coronavirus, we’re likely to expose a whole lot more people than we would if we had the flu. If we had the flu, by day three in the process we’d already be safely tucked away in bed, far from everyone else, sipping on orange juice and watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.
The coronavirus is exceptionally outgoing, you could say. Downright friendly! To a fault. It’s on an ambitious path to meet and greet as many people as it can until we manage to tell it we didn’t invite it to the party.
A Science Alert article states the following — “Disease experts estimate that each COVID-19 sufferer infects between two to 3 others. That’s a reproduction rate up to twice as high as seasonal flu, which typically infects 1.3 new people for each patient.”
Again, just consider the number of opportunities the coronavirus has to infect people for up to 14 days, while a flu patient would have disconnected from other people over a week prior. The coronavirus is determined to get up close and personal by whatever means possible, and a long incubation rate is part of its master plan. (Which makes me believe the coronavirus is the true evil mastermind.)
There is no coronavirus vaccine
Vaccines don’t happen overnight, or even in a matter of weeks or months. Current estimates are that a vaccine against COVID-19 likely won’t be available for at least a year. And no other known treatment has been shown to be consistently effective. This is a ride-it-out-and-pray kind of process. If you get the coronavirus, there’s no guarantee you’ll beat it.
Fortunately, we do know that younger people are likely to weather the coronavirus far better than older adults, or people with previous health challenges and weakened immune systems. But just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry. With no vaccine in sight anytime soon, this is a better-safe-than-sorry opportunity.
There is a significant chance we will overrun our health care system
I spoke to someone who works for the primary health care system in our state the other day, and he said that our hospital typically operates at 80% capacity on any given day. A spike in coronavirus cases in our area would undoubtedly overrun our hospital, leaving medical professionals to try and determine which patients get served, and which get sent away or moved to the back of the line.
This could mean filling up the maternity ward with coronavirus patients, with mamas and babies just down the hall or potentially right next door. Heck, those mamas might just find themselves having to deliver their babies at home if there’s no room in the inn, you know what I mean?
And what about the usual emergencies and medical issues? If our hospitals are full or overflowing with coronavirus patients, there won’t be room for the heart attacks, the collapsed lungs, the broken legs, the stroke victims. It’s not like we’re able to schedule our medical emergencies or try to delay them until #coronapocalypse has died out.
We simply cannot afford to play chicken with this virus, because it’s faster than us, it’s tougher than us, and it’s a heck of a lot stronger than us. If you think you’ll beat it, you’re probably underestimating your enemy.
It’s time to ‘Flatten the Curve’
I’m not going to go into a full description of flattening the curve, because I hope that every American is well aware of what that means by now. If you’re not, please jump on Google (Bing anyone?) right now and get educated.
For those of you who are up to date on the ‘flatten the curve’ concept, check out this impressive graphic from FlowingData, which shows why it’s so important to act early in our fight against COVID-19.
If this graphic doesn’t convince you why early social-distancing intervention is critical, then perhaps this image of what a coronavirus hospital might look like will:
I don’t know about you, but this isn’t how I want to spend the next month.
What’s Our Responsibility?
It’s easy to say “I’m young, I’m healthy, if I get the coronavirus I’ll be fine. So what, who cares.”
I’ll tell you who cares . . . your grandmother. Your grandpa. Your parents.
And guess who else cares? The two older women you unknowingly coughed on as you passed them on the street, restaurant, or subway, who later ended up dying from the coronavirus you passed on to them a month prior. Is this an extreme example? Actually, not really. It’s an entirely logical possibility. That’s all it takes for someone to end up with the coronavirus, and you’d never even know you were the one responsible for two additional obituaries in an already overflowing obituary section of your local newspaper.
Just because you didn’t realize it happened doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Out of the dozens upon dozens of articles I’ve read on the coronavirus in the past five weeks, two pieces have stood out the most for me. One of them discusses the issue of our personal responsibility in a powerful way. I highly recommend every American read it and take it to heart.
Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus Pandemic? Good for You. Now Stop Killing People.
By a Doctor in Western Europe
The other is undoubtedly the best article filled with scientific research that I’ve found. The data is impressive and provides an unbiased look at what we’re facing if we don’t stop passing the coronavirus off as a product of the media’s hype. Please read this one, and share with those who need it . . . aka everyone. Since this article was published last week, it’s been viewed over 35 million times. I’m hoping that means the word is getting out.
Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
Politicians and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?
By Thomas Pueyo
We’ve finally seen state and local leaders start to implement sweeping shutdowns in our areas. Hopefully, the federal government will ultimately follow suit and support those state and local leaders by implementing certain changes nation-wide. Courage and true leadership starts from the top. A leader who is more concerned with appearing to have things under control risks losing all ability to actually maintain control. He also creates uncertainty, fear, and a lack of faith in anything we hear from the media or scientific experts.
Americans can handle it. We don’t need to hear a watered-down version of the truth. Because until we know we’re hearing it straight, we’re going to continue to see new levels of coronacraziness across the nation, and we don’t need any more Costco toilet paper battles.
It’s also time we all do our part to become well educated about COVID-19. It’s time we stop repeating what we hear on our favorite news channels without actually knowing what we’re talking about, and do what it takes to become socially responsible human beings.
It’s been easy for people to complain about having to forfeit an upcoming trip over Spring break, the loss of sports and national tournaments, or a night out at a bar or favorite concert due to the increasing level of travel and other coronavirus-related limitations. But consider this . . . our forefathers sacrificed far more than that to ensure our long-term freedom, safety, and overall well-being.
It’s time we all took a lesson from them and show that we’re willing to sacrifice a small amount of temporary freedom today for the long-term benefit of our fellow Americans. It’s literally the least we can do.