Are panic and economic stagnation necessary?

Media hype and CDC pronouncements regarding the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have, in a matter of days, led to an unprecedented level of panic in the United States.  While the novel coronavirus is undoubtedly a consequential matter, it is reasonable to consider what might constitute an overreaction to a situation that, while not common, is at the same time not completely unique.

If we are to believe what we are told, the at-risk group for COVID-19 consists largely of the elderly and others suffering from co-morbidities.  Would it perhaps be reasonable to actively encourage members of the at-risk group to behave in their own self-interest by staying safe at home and by eliminating unnecessary public interaction and exposure until the current crisis has been resolved?

To shut down churches, public schools, universities, domestic travel, businesses, and sporting and community events while devastating the United States economy for a virus that provides little to moderate danger for those outside the at-risk group seems an unnecessarily high price to pay when caution by those at risk might enjoy equally successful results.

Consider for instance the annual influenza epidemic.  Influenza results in thirty-plus thousand American deaths annually while having a far broader at-risk group than that reported for COVID-19.  Why, then, the unreasoning panic over COVID-19?  Is this to become a new normal for fighting disease — the spreading of panic, the cultivation of unnecessary fear, and great damage to business and the economy?

The government has taken a number of highly responsible steps.  Limiting access to residents in nursing homes is imminently practical.  Restricting travelers from countries where the virus is prevalent was a masterstroke, and quarantine for a suitable waiting period of those entering our country or otherwise exposed to the virus is reasonable if inconvenient.

The stoppage of normal living for the vast majority to avoid the limited possibility of severe illness that exists for those outside the at-risk group seems extreme.  How much better to educate those at risk and to ask (or demand) that those having flu-like symptoms self-quarantine until their situation has been resolved?  Deaths from both COVID-19 and our annual flu could be greatly reduced if those suffering from flu-like symptoms would simply remain at home until well so as not to share their illness with associates in the workplace.

Perhaps it is time to emphasize the traditional American values of personal responsibility and concern for the well-being of others as well as the practice of overall good hygiene.  The steps necessary to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 may not be as difficult as we have been led to think.  It is time to apply reason and not unreasoning fear and panic.  This, like pandemics that have come before, will pass if we remain calm in our collective response.

Media hype and CDC pronouncements regarding the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have, in a matter of days, led to an unprecedented level of panic in the United States.  While the novel coronavirus is undoubtedly a consequential matter, it is reasonable to consider what might constitute an overreaction to a situation that, while not common, is at the same time not completely unique.

If we are to believe what we are told, the at-risk group for COVID-19 consists largely of the elderly and others suffering from co-morbidities.  Would it perhaps be reasonable to actively encourage members of the at-risk group to behave in their own self-interest by staying safe at home and by eliminating unnecessary public interaction and exposure until the current crisis has been resolved?

To shut down churches, public schools, universities, domestic travel, businesses, and sporting and community events while devastating the United States economy for a virus that provides little to moderate danger for those outside the at-risk group seems an unnecessarily high price to pay when caution by those at risk might enjoy equally successful results.

Consider for instance the annual influenza epidemic.  Influenza results in thirty-plus thousand American deaths annually while having a far broader at-risk group than that reported for COVID-19.  Why, then, the unreasoning panic over COVID-19?  Is this to become a new normal for fighting disease — the spreading of panic, the cultivation of unnecessary fear, and great damage to business and the economy?

The government has taken a number of highly responsible steps.  Limiting access to residents in nursing homes is imminently practical.  Restricting travelers from countries where the virus is prevalent was a masterstroke, and quarantine for a suitable waiting period of those entering our country or otherwise exposed to the virus is reasonable if inconvenient.

The stoppage of normal living for the vast majority to avoid the limited possibility of severe illness that exists for those outside the at-risk group seems extreme.  How much better to educate those at risk and to ask (or demand) that those having flu-like symptoms self-quarantine until their situation has been resolved?  Deaths from both COVID-19 and our annual flu could be greatly reduced if those suffering from flu-like symptoms would simply remain at home until well so as not to share their illness with associates in the workplace.

Perhaps it is time to emphasize the traditional American values of personal responsibility and concern for the well-being of others as well as the practice of overall good hygiene.  The steps necessary to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 may not be as difficult as we have been led to think.  It is time to apply reason and not unreasoning fear and panic.  This, like pandemics that have come before, will pass if we remain calm in our collective response.