It’s absolutely amazing that just a little more than two months ago few people had ever heard of the corona virus, but in about the last two weeks, this virus from China is shutting down practically the entire world. People around the planet are stunned not by the speed the virus is spreading, but by the speed panic is spreading. Any pandemic of a contagious infectious disease should cause serious concern and sober measures to contain it, so people and nations want to be cautious and safeguard the public health. But how much caution is prudent and at what point is it paranoia?
Viral pandemics are not new. In just the past couple decades, we have witnessed and more importantly survived SARs, MERs, and the Swine Flu. It’s still early, but so far the Wuhan strain of the corona virus numbers are a tiny fraction of those previous pandemics. In the USA, the Swine Flu reached 60.8 million cases in 2009 to 2010. As of this writing, there are about 3,500 confirmed cases of the Wuhan virus, so it has to get about 17,000 times worse to match the Swine Flu.
Make no mistake, it will get worse and continue to spread most likely a lot more. Perhaps it will ultimately be even worse than the Swine Flu that claimed over 12,000 American lives (to date Wuhan virus has claimed some 40 Americans); at this point, we don’t know. However, we must wonder why the Swine Flu did not cause the same intense reaction. It took almost six months to be declared a national emergency and nothing was cancelled. Is the current overwhelming response what we learned from the Swine Flu or do the authorities and scientists believe the Wuhan virus could be much more dangerous? Or will we look back and realize our incompetent media sensationalized this certain health threat into an overblown crisis for ratings?
Unfortunately, this is like the first major hurricane of the season. You know it could be dangerous if it hits your area, but you won’t know for sure until it hits. So you have no choice but to prepare and perhaps even evacuate. Coastal folks know they may evacuate for nothing, but if it was necessary, it could save your life. So we have no choice now but to take every precaution because no one particularly elected officials want to risk not doing enough.
The greatest fear is the unknown and though we don’t know how bad this pandemic will get yet, there are things we do know. We do know how to treat viral infections and so far the survival rate is at least 97%. We also know like most viruses the elderly and anyone with other health issues are more vulnerable, so those people should take extra precautions. Everyone else should keep washing their hands and avoid exposure to large groups. We also know our governments are taking unprecedented measures to combat this disease. The travel bans, cancelled large events, and suspended schools will certainly impede the spread because we are being forced to reduce public contact.
Despite some continued partisan sniping by presidential candidates and the Washington swamp, there is bipartisanship particularly at the state level as hard hit states are working well with the federal government to combat the Wuhan virus. So we can take some reassurance when a perceived real threat emerges, we do have some leaders that will come together for the good of all Americans.
While we must press ahead with these onerous steps that will affect everyone’s lives, there is no need to panic. It may be the worst pandemic and perhaps it won’t, but it won’t last forever. The government is taking this seriously and acting swiftly, so we can have confidence the government is not ignoring it. At the request of President Trump, the private sector is stepping up fast laning tests and vaccines and the Congress passed wide ranging measures to help businesses and workers cope with economic interruptions. All of the cancellations and people just avoiding public contact will slow down our economy, but it won’t come to a complete standstill. Life will go on and our otherwise healthy economy will recover and hopefully quickly and vigorously.
Panic is certainly not warranted and we may eventually learn our response was excessive, but we have learned some valuable lessons on how to handle such threats and the Wuhan virus exposed our dreadful over dependence on China for pharmaceuticals particularly anti-biotics. Some 80-90% of our anti-biotics are manufactured in China; we must bring that manufacturing back home.
Americans will hunker down and meet this head on, but let’s not overreact and do more economic damage than necessary. We can and will beat this. Despite some withering criticism, President Trump has been in front of this since it started with solid leadership; he is doing everything possible and everything the best scientists in America have recommended. Knowing our blessings come from God, President Trump called for a national day of prayer on March 15th. So remain calm, wash your hands, pray, and this too shall pass.
“In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song: Our city is strong! We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.” Isaiah 26:1
Pete Riehm is the host of Common Sense Radio heard 8pm every Thursday on FMTalk106.5 or streaming at fmtalk1065.com. Email him at [email protected] or on Twitter @PeteRiehm or visit http://peteriehm.com.