Opinion – We Are Overreacting
The 2019-2020 flu season has seen 39-50 million illnesses and 24,000 to 63,000 deaths. This is a really broad range, but the CDC states they are estimates. The CDC estimates that there were 34,200 deaths from the flu in the 2018-2019 season. At the time this article was written, in the United States, there have been 12,754 deaths from COVID-19. This is half of the lowest number of flu deaths this season. Yet news reporters and social media are not discussing the flu. Panic rose quickly in the United States over the coronavirus due to the media.
My family left on a cruise on March 1st, knowing that COVID-19 was in the U.S. but not concerned for our health. We did not have internet or cell service while on our cruise. When we arrived back in the United States on March 9th, all we saw was news reports about people panic-buying toilet paper and shelf-stable food. I remember thinking to myself, “What could possibly have changed so dramatically in a week?”
The answer was simple: the news had ramped up reporting.
For several weeks after returning home, I lived in a surreal nightmare. Since we were gone, we did not have many groceries at our house so I went to the stores. I couldn’t believe how many shelves were empty or nearly bare. I did not (and still don’t) understand the run on toilet paper. I felt that I had to do what was best for my family, so I bought enough groceries for two weeks, stocked up on pet supplies, and we hunkered down to wait.
One week after we returned, schools were closed. One week after that, the governor of Idaho issued a stay-at-home order. My inner anxiety was telling me that this was serious and millions of people were going to die. Funny, the media was also telling that story. I was so worried about my family that I refused to see my grandchildren.
I dropped into a depressive state where I lacked the motivation to write or exercise—the two things that keep me balanced and happy. I focused on the news reports. I spent hours scanning social media pages for updates.
Then it was as if I woke up.
My common sense returned, as well as my sense of American freedom. I have watched as our various levels of government have slowly taken away our rights because they made us afraid of a virus. This virus is going to, in the long term, act very much like the flu. We will be dealing with it for the foreseeable future. Does this mean every time it makes its rounds, we will go on lockdown?
San Bernadino County in California has issued an order that mandates everyone over the age of 2 years old wear a mask when they leave their homes. If they don’t they can face a fine of $1,000, 90 days in jail, or both. I’m sure other counties are following suit, and pretty soon this is going to be a requirement across the entire nation.
Yet there was a study done in which the findings showed a high rate of flu virus infection when a cloth mask was used. “Further research is needed to inform the widespread use of cloth masks globally. However, as a precautionary measure, cloth masks should not be recommended for HCWs [heathcare workers], particularly in high-risk situations, and guidelines need to be updated.”
Granted, this study was specifically in the health care industry, but aren’t we now being asked to sew cloth masks for hospitals? Why, when a previous study has already shown they are ineffective? Why would I trust a homemade cloth mask to protect me or my children when it is not good enough for health care workers? The CDC should not have made this recommendation without having solid studies to support their effectiveness.
Oh, I get it. The whole idea of wearing a mask is to remind you not to touch your face. But how many people wear a mask in the grocery store then take it off as soon as they get in the car? What surfaces does it touch? Do you then touch the same surfaces and then touch your face, thinking you are safe? It is not a sure-fire way to keep this virus under control. And now people are being forced to wear one or they will be fined or put in jail. What happened to choice?
John Barry, a professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said in an interview, “However, I do expect it to come and go in several waves, and I expect it to become endemic — it will be here forever. But that is not necessarily scary. Right now, no human immune system has ever seen it before. As our bodies become familiar with it, there’s a very good chance we will be able to deal with it much better naturally, even without a vaccine or drugs. As far as lessons, this is a marathon. We can’t wait out the virus. But we also need to get ahead of it, get all sorts of things in place, before we restart the economy or we will be in big trouble.”
Before I get metaphorically lynched, let me state that I do think this is a serious situation. This is a new virus. Our bodies do not know how to fight it off. It’s scary. People are dying. A lot of people are sick.
I am simply asking you to take a look at what’s behind the curtain. What is happening that our government doesn’t want us to focus on? If we so easily give up our rights to operate small businesses, visit friends and family members, and engage in normal routines of going to the gym and getting our hair cut, what else will they take away from us? And who is to say they will give these freedoms back to us once the cases of COVID-19 decrease?
The bottom line is that the media and government have heightened the concern over this virus and induced panic in the people. The government is taking away our Constitutional rights, one little piece at a time. They are using this as an opportunity to test just how far they can push the American people before we push back. And so far? We’re not pushing hard enough. This pandemic is not as bad as they are making it out to be. But no one knows that because we can’t leave our homes to see for ourselves.
We are overreacting to this pandemic, therefore putting ourselves at greater risk for financial and societal ruin. It’s not as bad as they tell us, or even as bad as we imagine. Stop panicking, start looking.