There has been a lot of information, hype, and misinformation about the Coronavirus, Covid-19, lately. Let me begin by saying I don’t want to downplay the threat this virus poses to the health and safety of our communities, nor do I intend on coming across as insensitive to those who have been affected by Covid-19.
I do, however, believe there is a lot of unnecessary panic about this virus, prompted by fear-mongering in the media. I am not going to get into my personal opinions on why this is happening, be that political, religious, etc. But, I will say that it will behoove all of us to look at the actual data rather than just listening to what the talking heads of our media outlets are reporting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates their tracking of Covid-19 daily Monday through Friday each week, and can easily be accessed on their website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html. As of their last update, dated March 13, they report the following numbers for Covid-19 in the United States:
- Total cases: 1,629
- Total deaths: 41
- Jurisdictions reporting cases: 47 (46 states and District of Columbia)
The CDC goes into further detail on their site by analyzing these statistics in various categories. But, what I want to focus on is the numbers I referenced. As of yesterday, there are a total of 41 deaths and 1,629 cases in the United States. As awful as that is, it is extremely mild compared to other illnesses, including the seasonal flu.
Once again, the CDC provides information regarding the seasonal flu on their website, which can be accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm.
Based on their calculations, in the United States, the “CDC estimates that, from October 1, 2019, through March 7, 2020, there have been:
- 36,000,000 – 51,000,000 flu illnesses
- 17,000,000 – 24,000,000 flu medical visits
- 370,000 – 670,000 flu hospitalizations
- 22,000 – 55,000 flu deaths”
As the CDC states, these flu statistics are estimates. They explain, “Because influenza surveillance does not capture all cases of flu that occur in the U.S., CDC provides these estimated ranges to better reflect the larger burden of influenza. ” Thus, these flu statistics are likely actually lower than the actual number of cases involving the seasonal flu.
Ok, so what is my point? I am glad you asked. My point is that by comparing accurate statistics Covid-19 is drastically less than the seasonal flu. For instance, Covid-19 has killed between 0.07% and 0.19% of the number of people in the United States that have died of the flu.
Again, I am not trying to diminish the significance of Covid-19, or the flu, or any other virus and disease out there. Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry, I have studied microbiology, physiology, etc. and understand and appreciate the severity of viruses and other forms of infections diseases.
What I am saying, however, is I don’t believe there is a need to panic to the level we are now seeing it throughout our communities. Major public events are being cancelled like there is a terrorist threat. Colleges and Universities are closing their campuses and transitioning to online learning only. My state’s governor just announced yesterday that all K-12 public schools are going to be closed at least until April 1st. And, people are stocking up on food and household supplies like we are going into Armageddon.
On a personal level, I went shopping earlier today at my local grocery store. Here are some photographs that perfectly illustrate my point.
As you can see, a lot of the shelves were empty. Especially on staples such as bread, meats, and toilet paper. The last sign even shows the rationing of supplies. My question is simple…is this necessary?
Given the statistics I mentioned, I would say it isn’t. Which then leads me to another question…What would happen if an actual catastrophic event happened in the midst of this. For instance, what if a tornado or earthquake struck our community? People wouldn’t be able to go to the store to replenish their supply of groceries and common household items. In my opinion, this is a catastrophe!
This exact thing happened to the small west Texas town of Orla, where a tornado ripped through an RV park yesterday. This tornado demolished numerous Recreational Vehicles (RVs). These were not just weekend getaways, rather these were where hard working people lived. Now these people have had their homes destroyed, and they can’t even go to the local grocery store to buy the food necessities they need because the shelves have been depleted. Does this make any sense at all? This is outrageous!
This is just one example of the type of disaster that can affect our communities, and are affecting our communities everyday. So, how are we helping each other by depleting the shelves and overreacting to the threat of a media hyped “pandemic?”
I believe we can be more community minded and think of each other through these and all trying times. In spite of what our media outlets tell us, there is no reason to fear and react to the levels we are seeing. Instead, we should all be informed of the truth of what is happening, to the level that is possible. We should be helping each other, and encouraging each other.
My final thought on this will be taken from the Bible, which I believe to be authoritative and the source of all Truth and Wisdom.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Until we meet again.