There’s a killer right behind you! In that building right over there, a few blocks down. You don’t happen to know anyone from that building, right?
That may seem like a ridiculous scenario, a killer so far that it does not warrant the frantic message. However, that may seem like the case for the coronavirus, recently renamed COVID-19.
According to the CDC, as of Feb. 21 there were only 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The World Health Organization says that there areover 77,000 laboratory-confirmed cases, 75,392 of those cases in China. There are over 2,200 people dead from the virus in China, a justifiable concern in that country.
Looking at the numbers in the United States, the COVID-19 scare seems to be blown way out of proportion. The media’s constant blaring of an alarm bell seems to just add to people’s anxiety, giving them nothing valuable, or so it may seem.
There have been plenty of virus scares: Ebola, H1N1 and SARS being a few examples. All of them have gotten plenty of attention in the media. This leads the public to wonder when this invisible enemy is going to attack them.
However, there must be consideration for who this message is for.
Not many people in the United States are going to be affected by COVID-19. It may be possible, but most are going to be those who traveled to certain areas of China.
However, if someone you know started having the symptoms tied to it and had recently traveled to one of those areas, you’re going to call it in, especially if you see the worldwide media barrage of information.
It’s like if you hear about a dorm having a lice problem on the other side of campus. There’s a possibility that the lice could affect you, but it is slightly unlikely that it will.
If you have friends in the dorm you might warn them about the lice and keep an eye out for any itchy scalps.
The goal here is to prevent the disease from spreading from those most likely infected, preventing even the small chance that it has from leaping to one person to another.
There is no need to panic, but such stories do heighten our awareness of the virus. Repeating the message guarantees that the virus will never have the chance to infect us.
So, the virus is blown way out of proportion, but it is not what this is about it is about. The messages drive the public to stay alert. That way the virus that doesn’t seem like a huge threat now doesn’t get to be so big and bad after all.