OK, folks, Let’s get a grip.
Contrary to hysterical impressions in current media, most of us are not threatened by death from coronavirus. Perhaps as soon as Thursday. Buy masks or perish. You can’t hide. Say goodbye to loved ones while you still can.
The Internet can be a wondrous tool for communicating information. Also for spreading fear, even panic. Not always for positive motives.
Here’s a perhaps redundant but always useful reminder: The scarier something is online or TV, the more eyes and clicks it gets. The more eyes it gets, the better it is for media business.
The economic — and political — incentive is there for max drama. Same goes for anger and outrage. Perhaps you’ve noticed this during the current campaign season.
Fear, especially health fears, can be real enough to affect markets, the workforce and supply chains. And even cause some folks to avoid a beer with a similar name.
People of all ages are naturally frightened by things they can’t see–sharks beneath the waves, monsters beneath the bed or, worse, over in the dark closet, radiation in our air, invisible viruses that mutate and emerge in new forms every single year to thin the human herd.
Talk about reminders: Do you know how many Americans actually die from the seasonal flu every year, with hardly any notice? In 2018, some 80,000 died in the United States, up from the usual range of 12,000 to 56,000.
Do you know how many Americans have died from the latest Asian scourge that blankets the media? So far, one, maybe two.
The flu pandemic of 1917-18 killed more than a half-million Americans.
The total toll estimations may be higher eventually because influenza is not always listed as cause of death, since it ignites subsequent problems like strokes, heart attacks and pneumonia, especially among elderly and young.
Any death from disease is regrettable. But the fatality rate for coronavirus so far has been only about two percent, two people out of every 100 known to have been infected.
However, this strain is likely to spread wider since its incubation period is 14 days, allowing carriers to be in unknowing contact with more people than those strains whose symptoms appear sooner.
The worst diseases like the 14th century Black Plague, the pneumonic kind, killed off its transmitters — and thus itself — quickly.
Headlines that might scream that the coronavirus fatality rate is double the regular flu are technically accurate but misleading, perhaps accidentally.
The SARS virus from 2003 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) had a fatality rate of almost 10 percent. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 is estimated to have infected more than a billion people, 61 million of them in the U.S.. More than 12,400 Americans died, but the fatality rate was much lower, 0.01 percent.
The 2018 flu toll was the worst in four decades for a variety of reasons. Allowing for a vaccine’s production months, around this time of year medical researchers calculate the evolving strains of flu most likely to dominate next winter. That year the little buggers fooled everyone and evolved differently, reducing the vaccine’s effectiveness.
So, let’s all stay calm, drink plenty of fluids and send this link to every person you know for clicking. It could mean the difference between life and their Death!