Don’t cross line between concern over coronavirus and hysteria

As the World Health Organization recently bestowed pandemic status on the coronavirus outbreak, the speed at which news relating to it has broken reached a truly dizzying pace on Wednesday.

We learned that many colleges and universities — including several in Pennsylvania like Penn State — have decided to conduct at least part of, if not all remaining spring semester classes online and some have even barred students from coming on campus for any reason other than to retrieve personal belongings from dorm buildings.

We learned that a lot of large gatherings, such as major sporting events, would be played in nearly-empty arenas and stadiums without the general public present — including the upcoming NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

We even found out that celebrities are not immune, either. Actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson have both been diagnosed with having contracted the virus and are quarantined in Australia as a result. Professional athlete Rudy Gobert, a basketball player for the Utah Jazz has tested positive for COVID-19 and, as a result, the National Basketball Association has taken the unprecendented step of suspending its season indefinitely. We learned Thursday one of Gobert’s teammates has also tested positive.

We heard President Donald Trump on Wednesday night announce a 30-day ban on travelers from the European Union (which no longer includes Britain) entering the U.S. in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

With the rapid nature of coronavirus-related news breaking, it’s easy for people to become almost hysterical. But the truth is that while some populations such as the elderly and those whose immune systems have been compromised are at risk for severe symptoms and even death, most people who contract the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms and are usually able to recover in a few days.

That’s not to say concerns over the spread of coronavirus are unwarranted — said concerns most definitely are valid and the proactive steps being taken to try and mitigate the virus’ spread are certainly prudent. But there is no reason to be hysterical about it and, in fact, that will only serve to cause panic and to create misinformation.

There is no cure or vaccine. Prevention is largely common sense — wash and/or sanitize your hands regularly, don’t touch your face or mouth more than necessary and regularly disinfect surfaces people frequently come into contact with. If you find yourself sick, stay home and don’t infect others. Around 80% of those who develop COVID-19 do not even require a hospital visit.

This outbreak is absolutely serious, but the second coming of the Bubonic Plague it is not.

We ask everyone to only listen to the medical experts and those organizations citing their recommendations. Only sound information and advice — and not mass hysteria — will allow all of us to make the best, most informed decisions for how to protect ourselves from getting coronavirus and for how to take care of ourselves if we get it anyway.


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