I’ve been pondering what to write about today. Of course, right now the whole world is focused on the Covid-19 (Corona) virus. It’s impacting everything from work, school, shopping, travel, special events. It fills the news, social media, conversations. I considered not writing about it since everyone else is writing or talking about it. But then I thought, no, since this blog is about my daily life in Northern Michigan, and this virus is affect my life, I’d write about it. Somewhat.
Over the years, I have occasionally read stories about people lost in the wilderness or facing some other survival situation. We also used to play a game called “Survival.” It’s sort of like Trivial Pursuit only the questions are about what to do in various situations: such as, what do you do if you are bitten by a poisonous snake, or drink poison, or are lost in the wilderness, or have frostbite. The real goal of the game was to educate a person on how to handle these various situations. Do you know the most important thing to do no matter what the crises is? It’s to stay calm. Don’t panic. If you panic, you can’t think clearly.
I know that people are scared in these uncertain times, and I have empathy for them. I know there are all sorts of statistics, and percentages, out there. But I’d like to offer a little bit of calmness and perspective.
The last update I saw, there were over 3,000 Covid-19 virus cases in the U.S. with a death toll of around 61. CBS News wrote, “While more than half of the roughly 137,000 people who’ve caught the virus worldwide have already recovered, the toll in human lives is staggering. More than 4,700 people have died, including at least 51 people in the U.S. — and it’s expected to get much worse before it gets better.” Scary, huh? But let’s break this down.
Each death is tragic for the families. In the USA, as far as numbers go for Covid-19, the numbers are NOT staggering. Out of a population of 327 million in the USA, 3,000 sick and less than 100 dead is not that many. In fact, the infections and deaths from Covid-19 are far fewer than that of an average flu season. The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.
In addition, the infections/deaths from Covid-19 are much lower than other serious viruses in the past, as shown in the chart. Pause and think about all these numbers for a moment.
If you add in worldwide infections/deaths from Covid-19 then you need to take into account that not every country has good sanitation, nutrition, or healthcare, which could affect a people’s ability to fight disease. So, of course, the infections/deaths would be higher in those countries, which will affect the overall statistics. Countries with better nutrition and healthcare will certainly have fewer deaths.
Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, an MIT scientist and researcher on the human immune system, explained viruses in this video:
“Ok,” some people say, “but you just wait, it’s going to get much worse…” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. EJ and I have always told ourselves when facing a hard thing–a life situation or potentially serious health problem–“let’s not worry until we have something definite to worry about. And when we have something definite to worry about, then we will take steps to deal with it.” We have lived through several scary situations, and most of them weren’t as bad as forecast. I remember that there were times when I was a child that so many students and teachers were sick from the flu that school districts closed for a week or so. No one panicked.
There have been deadly viruses in the past so, potentially, we could one day experience another deadly virus. Will the current virus infect/kill as many as those in the past? Maybe, but the numbers don’t seem to indicate it. I will take normal precautions, but I will worry about the Covid-19 virus when I feel I have something to worry about.
However, let’s imagine that the Covid-19 virus becomes the most deadly virus in the history of the planet. We will still pretty much need to deal with a serious virus in the same way that we need to deal with a mild one:
And most importantly, DON’T PANIC. Keep calm. I actually think the panic is causing more harm and suffering than the actual virus. People are hoarding, making items less available to others, which is causing more panic. Yet, the factories are still making toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other items just as they did a month ago. With all the cancellations and closures, businesses will suffer. People could lose their jobs. Listen to what one doctor says:
Here are a few other really good articles that I think are rational and calm:
Coronavirus Panic – What the Media is Not Telling
Letter from Toronto: An Infectious Diseases Specialist Reflects on COVID-19
Covid-19 is Nothing Like the Spanish Flu
Panic is part of how we survived as a species, but it really is important to try to use that, control it as best we can, do our best, and try to stay safe.