Over the past few days, panic has taken hold across the country.
Coronavirus fears have crashed the stock market and emptied store shelves. For
many, skepticism about the virus has given way to the belief that it is a
Chinese bioweapon gone awry or a false flag meant to impose authoritarian rule.
It’s time for America to get a grip. As I’ve written in the
past, the virus a real and serious threat, but it is also easy to take precautions to minimize the risk to
yourself and others.
I’ve watched many people online transition from the claim that
COVID-19 is no worse than the flu to the claim that it is a Chinese bioweapon
aimed at killing Americans. Both statements are wrong and irresponsible.
While the death rate for COVID-19 is not firmly established yet,
we do know that it is both
more dangerous and contagious than the flu. The mortality rate for the Coronavirus
is estimated to be about two percent, which is about 20 times higher
than the 0.1 percent death rate for the flu.
COVID-19 also has a higher
rate of transmission than the flu which means that it is more contagious. On
average, a person infected with the flu passes that virus along to about 1.3
other people. In the case of COVID-19, a person carrying the virus infects
about 2 to 3.1 others.
The good news is that about 80 percent of Coronavirus cases are
mild. A two-percent death rate gives you a 98 percent chance of survival, although
are not nearly as good if you are a senior citizen. Still, those of us who
are not in the most at-risk categories should act to protect ourselves from
contracting the virus because that makes us carriers.
If we carry the disease, we can transmit it to people who are
more likely to have a serious reaction. My father has had lung problems and my
mother has a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy. My father-in-law has COPD.
I want to avoid catching Coronavirus because I don’t want to spread it to them
or others with similar health problems.
Part of not spreading the virus involves social distancing. You
don’t have to self-quarantine if you haven’t been exposed. Just keep a little extra
distance from people and spend a lot of time washing your hands. Cover your
mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
Even if you have been exposed to the virus, the incubation
period is only 14 days. If you self-quarantine and haven’t
shown symptoms in that time, you are probably okay. In fact, the majority of
people develop symptoms within about 11 days.
You also don’t have to stockpile several months’ worth of food
and toilet paper. Having extra food on hand for emergencies is always a good
idea, but pizza deliveries and Uber Eats are probably not going to be
If you run out of toilet paper, use other materials, such as
cleaning rags or paper towels. No one is predicting that electricity will go
out so you can wash the rags. If you use paper towels, be sure not to flush
them since they will clog water pipes. But just be aware that there are
alternatives to toilet paper.
The decisions, made mostly by private companies and local governments,
to postpone or cancel public gatherings and close schools, are a justified
action and a good thing. Transmission of the virus will be slowed and lives
will be saved.
Along with not spreading the virus, you should also not spread
the panic. Most people are going to be okay. There will not be long-term shortages
of either food or toilet paper or anything else. The country will return to
normal in a few weeks.
There is also no evidence that the virus is a bioweapon from
China, the US, or anywhere else. Logically, the bioweapon arguments, which are
often made by the same people who say the virus is no worse than a cold or the
flu, don’t really make sense. If the Chinese were responsible for unleashing
COVID-19, why would they release it on their own population and, probably more
important to Chinese leaders, their own economy? If it was the North Koreans,
then why would they attack China, biting the hand that literally feeds them?
The theory that the Wuhan epidemic was created to crack down on
the Hong Kong democracy protests falls apart when you realize that Wuhan is 919
kilometers (571 miles) from Hong Kong. This is roughly the same as the distance
from New York to Dayton, Ohio. Besides, Chinese authorities have never shrunk
from simple, naked, brutal aggression against dissidents.
Conspiracy theorists also point to the arrest of three
alleged Chinese spies in Boston, one of whom was caught trying to smuggle
biological samples out of the US, as evidence of China’s responsibility.
However, the timeline doesn’t match since the arrests were made in December and
January while the first
case of COVID-19 dates back to mid-November. At any rate, it is unclear why
Chinese spies would steal samples of the Coronavirus and smuggle it back to China
to release it there instead of unleashing it in the United States, presumably
the real target according to the tinfoil hat crowd.
Some attempt to deal with these arguments by speculating that
the virus was a weapon that was released accidentally. However, COVID-19 makes
a poor bioweapon. A weaponized virus that only kills two percent of its victims
is much less effective than weaponized Ebola with a 90 percent kill rate. Most
victims of the Coronavirus are the elderly which would leave both the enemy’s
military and workforce intact. Except for causing a temporary recession, an
attack with COVID-19 would seem to be pointless.
Many of the people pushing alarmist theories about biological
attacks and false flags to impose authoritarian rule are people who sing the
same tune about any world event. If you look back in their timelines, I’ll bet
that you would find posts sounding the alarm about Obama imposing martial law,
Jade Helm 17, FEMA camp detention centers, crisis actors at Sandy Hook, coups
against Donald Trump, and a plethora of other theories that amount to nothing
more than paranoid fantasies. They deserve to be ignored.
The bottom line is that the Coronavirus pandemic is a serious
matter but it is not Armageddon. What the situation requires is that we, as a
nation, keep our heads and not lose our cool. We can and will weather this
If, several months from now, we can look back on the precautions
we took and say that we overreacted instead of lamenting that we should have done
more and sooner, it will be a job well done. That will mean that our defenses
worked and the death toll from the pandemic was minimized because we made swift
and strong choices to work together to fight the disease.
Until then, as LTG Russel Honore said in 2005 in the aftermath
of Hurricane Katrina, “Don’t
get stuck on stupid.”