It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
As the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19, AKA novel coronavirus, a pandemic last week, hysteria levels hit new highs.
To be clear, every cancellation of activities, gatherings and events in the state of Utah and across the nation at this point is precautionary. It’s a measure to slow the expansion of the virus so that healthcare facilities are not overwhelmed.
Much of it is driven by liability concerns — no one wants to be liable if their gathering is the one where someone happens to spread COVID-19 to others.
All the experts agree that older populations and those with preexisting health concerns face the biggest risk from the virus. However, most cases of the respiratory virus have mild symptoms. Indications are that up to 16 percent of people infected have serious symptoms, with fatality rates ranging between .7 and 4 percent, depending on healthcare and treatment quality. The numbers are ever changing, but latest estimates from the WHO show the virus has about a 3.9 percent fatality rate among confirmed cases.
The CDC updates numbers of how many are infected in the United States and how many have died each day during the week. According to the CDC numbers, in the United States the fatality rate is closer to 2.5 percent.
The disease has continued to spread and is a cause for concern. Many state organizations are cancelling gatherings, while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is televising its general conference, but not having people attend it in person. The LDS church is also putting a hold on stake conferences and regular church meetings.
High school sports have been put on hold for two weeks as a precautionary measure.
These are all precautionary measures for a viral infection that may or may not become community spread in Utah.
As of this point, it is not being spread in the community.
However, most likely it will happen in Utah as it has in other places.
While people should be concerned, it does not mean people should stop living their lives, and it does not warrant a panic.
The number of conspiracy theories, political recrimination claims and people spooking themselves has outpaced the spread of the virus by far.
The simple fact is that most people who become infected by the virus will be all right, while some will have serious symptoms and very few will die.
The key is not to lose one’s rationality.
Show good judgment, have food and supplies on hand just in case a self-quarantine is needed.
As the virus spreads, if one feels ill, avoid public gatherings. If you feel sick, stay home. Those with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing should contact a medical provider by phone — not by walking into the hospital or other healthcare facility.
Basic protective measures include washing one’s hands frequently; maintain a distance of three feet from anyone who is coughing or sneezing; avoid touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth; practice good hygiene by covering one’s mouth when coughing and disposing of used tissues immediately.
The COVID-19 pandemic has bred conspiracy theories and a lot of paranoia. At this point the danger of paranoia and mob mentality is much more pressing than the actual virus. In this case an overreaction may be better than an under-reaction, but both present dangers.
If people are reasonable, logical and measured, this will eventually pass and things will normalize.