There have only been a few times in my life that I have been gobsmacked in my tracks and left speechless. One of those times was a few weeks ago when one of my best friends told me her service dog, whom I had known since I went back to law school, had unexpectedly died. The second time (of recent memory) was the other night when I went to Costco, and in the room where one would typically find paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels, there was nothing.
Like quite literally, nothing.
The shelves were eerily bare and people were walking around like a scene from the TV show, “The Walking Dead.” I was so caught off-guard, and honestly, a little bit creeped out . . . but it got me thinking. I’m 99% sure most of the people who purchased those pallets and pallets of teepee bought said paper products out of fear. That sensationalized fear that COVID-19 is going to ravage the planet and leave nothing but a burning trail of ash and smoke in its wake.
The reality is the Coronavirus is just a really bad cold. Sure, it’s claimed lives, but so does the annual flu each and every year . . . but you don’t see neighbors stockpiling Spam and Clorox wipes like it’s going out of style, do you? The CDC estimates that nearly 60,000 people die from the “common” cold every year.
To date, less than a dozen people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and to many experts’ knowledge, it’s been present in this country for nearly two months. There are many more infected, sure, but the point is social media/the media in general has made it seem like everyone, literally everyone has a possibility of catching it and that everyone who comes into contact with it will die.
That’s simply not true.
The CDC has explained that those who have died from COVID-19 have mostly (1) been over the age of 70 and/or (2) have had pre-existing health conditions. Now, I’m no doctor (doctor of the law doesn’t count), but I’m struggling to logically find reason to become fearful or bust into full-blown panic mode. At the time that I’m writing this, less than a dozen Americans have died from this (keep in mind there are approximately 327.2 million people in the US), and of those in the US that have tested positive for it, many are repatriated Americans who were living and/or traveling in close proximity to where this all first started in Wuhan, China.
So what’s the point with all this? Well, it’s a good thing to stay informed, sure. But try to keep yourself from teetering on the edge of hysteria, because, in the end, you can either freak out and prepare for a zombie apocalypse, or just chill tf out and wash your damn hands a little more often (or hey, why not start now if you’re one of those special folk who darts out after a pee without washing your hands . . . YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYONE ANY FAVORS).
PRO TIP: Wash your hands with warm soapy water to the tune of “Happy Birthday” sung twice, and you should be good. Historically, diseases spread when there is poor hygiene, so for the love of all things good, maybe try some of the following:
-if you’re feeling sick and have a job that allows you to work remotely, out of consideration for your coworkers, resist the urge to cough on your compadres and work from home
-if you have a job in the service industry or otherwise that isn’t so flexible, talk to your employer; after Chipotle dealt with that E. coli outbreak in 2016, they implemented a new policy that actually pays employees to stay home if they’re actually sick (hangovers don’t count) in order to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2016
-practice proper hygiene – wash your hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, clean surfaces that are high-trafficked (phones, keyboards, door handles, etc.), wash your clothes (hello, talking about those jeans that haven’t been washed since 2010)
-if you have a weakened immune system (by age, illness, or otherwise), maybe avoid crowded places for a while
I guess all in all I’m trying to say is get off the damn internet (after you read this great thought post, of course) and just focus on tasks at hand. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep, and staying hydrated are all great (and very low to no cost) ways to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
For those of us with compromised immune systems, we’ll also be okay. We’ve survived outbreaks that have been much worse, like:
-2009/2010 Swine Flu, which infected 1 in 5 worldwide . . . but it’s death toll was barely .02%. We’ve also lived through: the Zika Virus, Ebola, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and many more. To boot, we’re not dealing with something like Leprosy or Cholera. If you don’t know anything about those bad boys, give them a quick search and you’ll quickly see the common cold is small potatoes to disfigurement, lesions, and other permanent injuries.
And for all those millennials freaking out and causing a shortage of cute hand sanitizers at Bath and Body Works, HIV/AIDS was considered a pandemic (and still is), with nearly 37.9 million people infected worldwide . . . but that hasn’t caused a shortage of condoms, or all together stopped people from having sex.
That’s all I’ve got on the topic. Keep washing your hands. Keep being good people . . . sure, it’s scary to have a major health scare on the rise, but if you’re buying up all the masks on the shelves, the ripple effect is people who actually need them (hello, all healthcare providers, first responders, etc.) won’t be able to have access to them, which affects their safety and ability to perform their jobs, which in turn could affect you.