If you have turned on the news or radio in the past couple of weeks, you have undoubtedly heard the word “coronavirus.” With constant reports that the virus has spread to this or that country, health organizations are scrambling to trace the spread, quarantines of cruise ships, and a rising death toll, it would seem almost impossible not to worry about the strange new virus going around the globe. So how does one stay safe in the midst of coronavirus panic without letting anxiety turning them into an agoraphobe?
What is the Coronavirus?
While news reports typically just say “the coronavirus,” the virus currently spreading is merely one out of a group of viruses known as coronaviruses. Because it was previously unidentified, it is sometimes referred to as the novel (new) coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. More recently, it was given the name SARS-CoV-2. If the SARS portion of that looks familiar, it is because in 2003 a similar virus called SARS-CoV, another coronavirus commonly referred to as SARS, was in the headlines. The coronavirus currently spreading is causing the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Where Does the Coronavirus Rank Among Other Outbreaks?
In comparison to other notable outbreaks, COVID-19 has a relatively low fatality rate. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a 40 percent fatality rate for the last Ebola outbreak. During the last SARS (another coronavirus) outbreak, 774 people died out of a total of 8,098 that were infected for a fatality rate just below 10%. Another coronavirus, MERS, had a fatality rate around 30 percent when it killed 858 of 2,494 of the individuals who were infected with it. COVID-19’s fatality rate ranges from 2 to 3.5 percent depending on the source. Some reports think that this might be a high estimate as more and more non-fatal cases are discovered.
Is it Really Worth the Anxiety?
Reports of face masks and hand sanitizers selling out due to the coronavirus indicate that people are anxious about the virus. Is the coronavirus worth the worry and anxiety that a lot of people seem to be feeling? How do you stop anxiety from spiraling out of control regarding the coronavirus? First, look at the facts.
Rely on Facts to Reduce Your Anxiety
While media reports would have people thinking that there is a world ending global pandemic at this point, the fact of the matter is that the coronavirus is not any worse than any previous virus outbreak. Looking at the statistics, there is really no need to be anxious. The fatality rate is much lower than other coronavirus outbreaks in the past. Additionally, every year a virus known as the flu comes around. Since October of 2019, an estimated 45 million Americans were infected with the flu with over 46,000 of those infections ending in death. Perspective shows that every year we deal with much more infectious and much more deadly viruses without a high-level anxiety.
Step Away from Media Reports
Remember that fear and outrage sell much more than the full truth. Constantly hearing of the coronavirus showing up in a new country, another death, or any of the other repeated headlines only achieves the goal of increasing worry. This is a profit tactic of media corporations. The most important information is often left out. Take the example of Dr. Craig Spencer. In 2014, he became the first person in New York City to be diagnosed with the Ebola virus. He was vilified by the media, public, and politicians for being in public after returning from West Africa where he had been treating Ebola patients. The thing that was left out of all the reports and criticism of Dr. Spencer…Ebola was not contagious until symptoms arise and he had already gone into quarantine at the first sign of symptoms.