It is always better to be safe rather than sorry, and that includes during this trying time of the Coronavirus season.
As COVID-19 continues to spread at a rate baffling most medical personnel, several countries are preparing for the worst. Italy has put its entire population of 60 million people on lockdown, restricting travel outside the country. Some Polish and Italian visitors I recently interviewed told me that their respective countries have cancelled public Catholic masses and other culturally important events. According to CNN, more than 115,000 people world-wide have been infected at the time of this article, with over 4,200 fatalities.
A lot of people are asking what the big deal is. The flu is more contagious and even has a higher mortality rate than the coronavirus (the latter’s mortality rate so far is 3.4 percent, as estimated by the WHO). Fewer people are at risk for dying of the new disease, too, as opposed to the flu. The flu can be especially deadly for the elderly and young children, while it seems that the Coronavirus has been skipping over younger generations.
The scariness of the coronavirus does not lie in its mortality rate. It does not even lie in its symptoms. What is making people panic over this is the fact that doctors do not know what to do about it and the fact that the media is prompting panic-buying.
The survival of the disease in various climates among different populations is not to be underestimated. This virus has hit every habitable continent so far. That fact might scare you, and a little dose of healthy fear is not bad.
But if you are scared, there is no reason to become hysterical.
Media outlets have flooded our screens with footage of Americans “panic-buying” supplies like Doomsday is approaching. By looking at just the footage of cleared-out Costcos and empty Targets, you might think the Apocalypse has already arrived. Customers have to wait outside stores for the chance to get in, while household supplies such as diapers and soap are out of stock.
Everything has been over-reported. While it is always wise to stock up on food in case of an emergency, such hysteria can cause a nation-wide butterfly effect. With unnecessarily stocking up on more beans and soups than your stomach can manage, we may very well be looking at a famine—which could lead to inflation and an upset of the agricultural economy.
Then there is the issue of everyone buying up medical supplies.
Hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes are a hot commodity now, with even hospitals and local medical centers running out and not being able to find any more to buy. If you are not sick, you do not need to drown yourself in anti-bacterial solution (the disease is a virus, after all). Wash your hands with soap and donate to a medical center in need near you. They need it more than you do, as they have to deal with actual sick patients and need to protect themselves.
Normal items have also become relatively scarce in grocery stores. In addition to the aforementioned supplies, people are hoarding toilet paper and water bottles.
The government is not going to shut off our water, since the virus is not waterborne. If you are not sick, you will not need to be under quarantine, thus eliminating the need to buy out whole shelves of toilet paper. Even if you are quarantined for the 14 days, you will not run out of toilet paper in that time. If that concerns you, you should have probably been seeing a doctor about it before this whole pandemic started.
There has been a lot of hype over this virus, and for good reason. The unknown can be absolutely terrifying. A disease that has no vaccine, cure or much knowledge about it can cause you to question your future. However, we can track patterns. We can predict outbreaks. We can prescribe preventative care.
So far, the only deaths in the United States of Coronavirus have been of people in their late-60s and older, all with pre-existing health conditions. If you are a healthy American adult or child, you will be just fine.
However, we must continue to pray for those who are not.