Is the Coronavirus Infecting the Minds of People in Good Health?

GROWING CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS LEAD TO POSTPONEMENTS AND CANCELLATIONS -- All Hamilton County Schools have been closed for student health and safety.

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GROWING CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS LEAD TO POSTPONEMENTS AND CANCELLATIONS — All Hamilton County Schools have been closed for student health and safety.

The year 2020 got off to a really negative start with the increasing tensions between the United States and Iran, which led many to believe that “World War III” would soon commence. Deadly bush fires engulfed Australia, killing over 30 people and over one billion animals. Now, people are on high alert after a new illness has surfaced, spreading rapidly in certain areas: the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Coronavirus is said to have originated in Wuhan, China, with nearly the same side effects as a common cold, including shallow breathing, coughing, and a fever. While the exact origins of COVID-19 is currently up for debate, it is widely believed to have come from animals.

The symptoms are estimated to appear delayed, ranging from two to fourteen days after contact with another individual suffering from the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Once the outbreak was confirmed, China gave its citizens a short time window to exit the parts of the country where it was spreading rapidly before shutting down all transportation services. They did so to contain the outbreak and prevent people from spreading it in busy public centers.

A couple from Chattanooga has even been quarantined after being aboard a Japanese cruise ship with over 170 individuals that tested positive for the virus.

Although the new sickness grew at an alarming rate when it first came about, with the amount of individuals infected seemingly doubling each day during its peak, it has claimed few lives.

In China, currently, over 2,700 individuals have died of Coronavirus. But, compared to the rest of the country’s population, that means that only 00.0000019% of the entire population has died from the outbreak– less than 1%.

Notably, most of the fatalities resulting from the virus occurred in elderly individuals with preexisting conditions already, such as cancer. The elderly have weaker immune systems, which prevented older citizens from recovering from the virus.

Only 42 people have died of COVID-19 outside of China, making the Coronavirus seem less of a threat to the rest of the world when compared to other well-known illnesses. This causes many to wonder why there is such an uproar about the virus.

“[The Coronavirus] is as bad as the flu. The flu killed 16,000 people, but, if you look at the media, you’d think that the virus was going to kill us all,” said Duncan Kelley, history and contemporary issues instructor.

Since October, the CDC estimates that there have been anywhere from 16,000 to 41,000 flu deaths in the U.S. alone. There are 29 to 41 million cases of the flu just in America, unlike the 81,109 confirmed Coronavirus cases worldwide.

Aside from the fact that the media is blowing the illness out of proportion, the Coronavirus appears to be infecting those who are not even sick with an overwhelming sense of xenophobia– prejudice against foreigners.

Foreign exchange students are being exiled and outcast by their peers, even if they have not visited China. Degrading and outright racist social media posts are circulating about Asians having the Coronavirus. Such remarks have attempted to justify blatant xenophobia, painting a false picture.

“When you turn on the news, it’s all flashing red lights and alerts. As an individual, one can think things through rationally, but that is not the case when the media puts all of these headlines at the forefront,” said AP Biology and Anatomy instructor Tina Cotreau. “A video of a person beating up an elderly woman would go viral, while someone helping an elderly woman cross the street would go unnoticed.”

The Coronavirus has done more than kill and infect, it has caused irrational panic and misinformation to become the norm.

While a new disease naturally evokes fear from the general public, it is still best to stay informed about such topics by putting them into perspective. While it can be hard to ignore click-bait, one should always keep in mind that we have modern medical and technological advancements as well as trusted sources for fact checking.