Please calm down: It is not as deadly as it seems

Hannah Boucher | Staff Columnist

In less than two months the world has entered full-on panic mode. As the coronavirus has spread from China to more than 100 countries, the world is facing a pandemic. Countries such as Italy and China are shutting down as the number of people infected continues to rise.

This pandemic is bringing in money for major news-media outlets, such as CNN, ABC, Fox and NBC. Countless stories are reported on throughout the day, grabbing the attention of anxious readers tracking the “deadly” disease.

This incessant tactic of fear-mongering has turned the public into a frazzled colony of ants, unable to locate their home base.

It’s not surprising though, given the timing of the situation. The coronavirus is playing the same role as the War on Terror, or the most recent economic crisis. The spread of disease is just another topic for politicians to debate about in order to try and gain more voters in the primaries and/or the general election.

While there are some risks in contracting the coronavirus, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), the mortality rate is currently at 6%, the same as the seasonal flu. Unless a person is over the age of 50, or they have a compromised immune system, there is not much to worry about.

This mass hysteria is made even worse when the general public spreads rumors and myths about the virus. People are afraid of catching the virus through Chinese goods, or they think that alcohol will sterilize them.

Although WHO is putting information out to the public on the logistics of the coronavirus, this helpful data is drowned out by the thousands of social media posts that only affirm the fears of the people.

In situations such as this, when people are filled with fear, matters tend to worsen. By stressing over the circumstances, people are actually putting their immune system at risk, making them more susceptible to contracting the disease.

In addition, some people are opting to isolate themselves in their homes to prevent infection; however, this also may compromise their immune system. When people limit their exposure to other germs outside of their homes, they are decreasing the number of pathogens that their body will have to fight off.

The use of face masks has also been proven to not be as helpful as some tend to believe. Most of the time, people do not properly use their face masks, allowing airborne pathogens to get trapped into their mask, almost guaranteeing their exposure. Even the Surgeon General is warning civilians against the use of face masks in an attempt to prevent infection.

During spring break, I had the privilege of witnessing the effects of mass-hysteria first hand. Young students were sent to school, wrapped in plastic wrap and wearing their face masks. The Seattle-Tacoma airport was not in its usual state of hustle-and-bustle. Friends from the University of Washington came back home two weeks early, turning their one-week spring break into three weeks.

University of Washington is not the only college to cancel in-person classes. Also joining this movement are Stanford, Columbia, Ohio State, Harvard and now Duquesne. In addition to the schools that have already closed down their campuses, many universities nationwide are following this trend. The cancellation of classes has forced universities to go online, meaning students must return home early.

This global panic is not all bad, though. For those brave enough to venture to vacation destinations, round-trip plane tickets to tropical paradises such as Hawaii range anywhere from $200 to $400. While the rest of the world is preoccupied with buying out Costco’s entire stock of toilet paper and water bottles, you could be sitting on the beach, sipping on piña coladas.