Please stop the Coronavirus hysteria.


By Tim Constantine – – Monday, March 9, 2020  [Washington Times]
Just over a year ago, long before the term coronavirus had entered our collective vocabularies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in just a few short weeks of the 2018-19 winter season, the flu had sickened between 6 million and 7 million Americans. About half of those had gone to the doctor for help. Somewhere between 69,000 and 84,000 had been hospitalized. The good news, the CDC announced, was that it wasn’t nearly as severe as the year before.
The previous year, 2018, the CDC reported 49 million Americans had been sickened by the flu. 960,000 were hospitalized and over 80,000 ended up dead. You read that right, in 2018 over 80,00 people died from the flu in the United States. Most of the victims were geriatric, many with compromised immune systems. There were a handful of pediatric deaths, most with immune systems not yet fully developed. All tragic deaths. All flu related.
Fast forward to 2020 and we find our world in utter panic due to something called the coronavirus. Monday morning the New York Stock Exchange halted trading when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by nearly 1900 points (7%) in the first 15 minutes of trading. Coronavirus induced panic.
The organizers of South By Southwest — which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors and some of Hollywood and music’s biggest stars to Austin, TX at this time each year — announced last Friday they had canceled the annual arts and technology festival, saying they’re “devastated” but recognize it is necessary to prevent a serious threat of contagion. This recognition came despite the fact Austin Public Health had stated as recently as Wednesday that “there’s no evidence that closing SXSW or any other gatherings will make the community safer,”

No evidence that closing gatherings makes anyone safer and yet panic is setting in everywhere. The National College Players Association (NCPA) has asked the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to consider having its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments with no crowds in the arenas due to coronavirus fears. No crowds during the sweet 16 games? That may be the new definition of March Madness.
The same reactionary hysteria is taking place all over the globe. Saudi Arabia took the rare step of suspending religious pilgrimage trips to Mecca. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has ordered the lockdown of the country’s northern region of Lombardy and 14 nearby provinces in an attempt to halt the spread of the coronavirus. A dozen passengers on a cruise line tested positive and more than 2300 other passengers and a crew of nearly 1100 were held hostage for days. Even upon release from the vessel, all will be quarantined for 14 days at various military facilities.
There are threats to close down public schools all across the United States. The Mayor of a Japanese town scheduled to host the 2020 Olympics this coming summer has suggested perhaps the Olympics should be canceled.
Hysteria. Total hysteria.
Is it possible the coronavirus is something less than the second-coming of the black plague? I have this crazy habit of checking facts and putting things in context. As I write this column I am looking at the “real time” CDC website which lists the “COVID-19 US at a glance” statistics. The latest numbers? 566 cases of coronavirus in the entire United States. 22 related deaths. Obviously any death is tragic but does a count of 22 deaths in a country of 330 million people really warrant billions of dollars in Wall Street losses, the cancellation of festivals, games, community gatherings, schools, church services and more?
In a word, no. It is hysteria.
In 2018, nearly 1 million people were hospitalized in the US for the flu. Over 80,000 died. Games weren’t canceled. Festivals thrived. Concerts weren’t shut down. Flights continued on as originally scheduled. Business as usual despite 80,000 dead. Why then are we closing down society in response to 22 deaths?

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