You would have to be living on a remote island not to be conversant on the coronavirus. The daily drumbeat of cable TV news has kept the once-barely-known ailment front and center in our lives.
We see the photos of people wearing masks in cities around the world, and of nearly empty airports, and we hear the reports of more cases in the U.S. and elsewhere. It’s easy to understand why people are concerned, even fearful, but we must not panic.
Certainly, the virus, also known as COVID-19, is to be taken seriously, and not, as some commentators have said (yeah, we’re looking at you, Rush Limbaugh), as little more than a common cold. The symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath, and anyone experiencing those should seek medical attention. But we must maintain a sense of calm and perspective.
In certain cases, we see panic setting in. Some of the worst of it is the cruel treatment we have seen from time to time of people of Asian descent. There have been instances in which Asians have been yelled at, pushed and shoved, and in one case, sprayed with a disinfectant on a New York City subway train. That kind of behavior must stop.
Certainly, there are measures to be taken: People should wash their hands often, cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze, and stay home when they’re sick.
Also, don’t look to radical pundits for your news. Trust reliable sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or local government agencies. And keep your thoughts focused on practical, everyday matters, such as your job and the welfare of your family and friends.
We aren’t trying to be overly sanguine here, but we need to keep our wits about us, and that means acting like sensible people have always acted in difficult times: with courage and optimism.