Readers tell us: Do you take the coronavirus threat seriously or believe it’s way overblown?

19

By Emily Woodbury

Maybe, if you’re still in some remote parts of the country, your life hasn’t been that affected by the coronavirus…at least not yet. But up here where I am in Seattle, things are different. And at my old home, New York City, where many of my closest friends are, things are much different. Life is not the same. If you’re still living your life unaffected by this thing, don’t take that for granted.

A couple of Sundays ago we asked you if you take the coronavirus threat seriously, or believe its dangers have been way overblown. The results were mixed, which I suppose both surprised me and didn’t at the same time. A significant portion of you, 38 percent, take the coronavirus threat very seriously, and another 38 percent said that you feel like it’s a big concern, but not as big as it’s being portrayed. A smaller 15 percent of you think it’s no more serious than the flu, and another small 8 percent of you aren’t taking it seriously at all, you’re livin’ life as usual.

A quick scan of the nearly 100 comments we received on this poll tells me this: Many of you are not nice to one another. Now is not the time to not be nice. I’m going to filter through a lot of these comments before I post a few below…

Actually, never mind. I’m going to skip the part where I usually post some of your comments. There isn’t much I could post without people from different backgrounds jumping on top of each other. Discussion is great, blame isn’t. I am not trying to mute your voice (your voice is important), but I don’t feel the need to start up another conversation about this. If you want to read the comments, or join in on the discussion yourself, click here and scroll down.

Please be respectful. Please be healthy.

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

19 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Billy Bob Thornton
5 months ago

This just in; the math. For every death, up till April 15th, 710 Americans have been laid off work. You havent seen anything yet boys and girls. Get back to work, or you won’t have a country. At least not one you remember.

Rich T
5 months ago

I question your invocation of “math”. So would you send everyone back to work, or just some people? How do you decide?
Here are the facts (and we all know that FACTS are stubborn things – you can’t actually wish your way around them:
1) There are not enough virus test kits, and there is not enough capacity to process the current number of test kits that are available quickly enough to know who is infected right now, and who is not. The development and production of tests for current infection and for antibodies that would indicate who has been infected and recovered – are not ramped up yet. Some of the reagents needed for tests currently in use, as well as sampling swabs are still in short supply. There are currently not enough trained medical professionals to deploy the tests on a large enough scale to get results fast enough to gain that knowledge about who is a danger, and who is at risk – and who is not.
2) It’s not yet known whether those who have recovered, or were infected but experienced no symptoms, can be reinfected. The extent and duration of immunity for this virus is unknown, because it’s NEW. But experience with other coronaviruses and observations from around the world already suggest that the best we can expect is temporary and limited immunity for those who have recovered. In severe cases the virus leaves permanent lung damage – meaning that a second bout could more easily be lethal.
3) There is no vaccine yet. Teams around the world are taking various approaches to developing an effective vaccine. This takes time and testing; before using it, a vaccine needs to be proven effective and not severely damaging – or lethal in itself.
4) No effective treatment has been discovered yet. If any had been discovered yet, the news would have spread far and wide among the doctors who risk their lives daily to save lives. If and when there is one, you will certainly hear about it. In the meantime, the supposed “miracle cures”, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, were suggested by Chinese doctors anecdotally to have had some positive effect – but doctors elsewhere who tried them found they had no effect in most cases, and some effect in a few. As with any drug therapy, the effective dose is one that helps without harming, and that dose for COVID-19 is not known. It is known that the treatment can cause long term heart damage or death. Antiviral and other treatments are also being tested around the world, but so far there is no “magic bullet” for this disease.

Math teaches us how to depict a constant rate of change as a straight line. Let’s say for instance that people are dying in the US at the rate of 2,000 per day (it’s more than that right now). If that remained steady, it would be a straight line. That’s not how a disease spreads, because for each person who gets infected, with this virus they infect on average a fraction more than 2 other people. That means an increasing rate – so instead of 2,000 people dying every day, the number of deaths every day increases. If the number doubles every week, the deaths would increase in a series as follows, per week: 2,000, 4,000, 8,000, 16,000, 32,000… So you can see that in 4 weeks you’ve gone from 2,000 to 32,000 people dying per week, and over that span 62,000 people have died – instead of 2,000, 2,000, 2,000, 2,000, 2,000… which would have been 10,000 people. Are you following the math? I’d draw you a graph, but I can’t in this space. If we didn’t do everything we can to stop the spread of this disease, and instead let it run its course, there would be a LOT more deaths within the next few months – and worse still, once hospitals are overwhelmed, you can expect the death rate to climb even higher still.

According to “math”, the only thing we do know for sure if we send everyone back to work before we can manage the rate of infection, is that the exponential spread of the virus will return, and the death rate will climb exponentially again. This is why people who are much better informed then you and me are working on an INFORMED, COORDINATED and PHASED approach to opening workplaces and lifting restrictions. These are what the governors of Eastern, Western and Midwest states are doing. That’s the best use of “math” – taking the known facts, and quantifying what you know, and using uncertainty bands to account for what you don’t know for sure. It’s probability and statistics, which has enabled every major public health advance of any kind over the past couple of centuries. The economy can recover. Hundreds of thousands or a couple million DEAD PEOPLE in the US on the other hand, cannot. What would be the impact to the economy if we let THAT happen? That’s reason enough, but on top of that, what would be the impact to our basic human decency? There will be a recovery – just as there was a recovery after the Great Depression (which led to the longest sustained period of prosperity this country has ever seen). There was also a recovery after the Great Recession – but it did not reach everyone. Perhaps the next recovery will bring with it a recalibration of the economy, and a return to a less top-heavy distribution of wealth and income. The lessons are all there to be learned – we just have to make an honest and unbiased effort to learn them.

Cheryl Thompson
5 months ago

Good points! We are only camping in our driveway for now. The KOA near us where we planned to go in mid-May for a shakedown trip, called to say they might not be open, but they would tell us if and when they made that decision to shut down. I don’t want to be caught unawares and trapped away from home while on a trip. Each one should follow their state’s and/or federal directions on matters. Our personal decisions affect more than ourselves and those traveling with us. I would rather err on being too cautious rather then unknowingly put someone else at risk. Driveway camping has been fun now that the weather is warmer.

Jan VH
5 months ago

Although I believe that this virus is not as dangerous as some people make it out to be, there are other viruses that we have to be aware of. I live in a small town in eastern Washington where we have not any cases of the the coronavirus. To that I do not condone everything being shut down. We are told that if we go outside we should wear a mask. Ok, but I saw a person wearing a mask below their nose, have been told that this virus can enter your body through your mouth, nose, and eyes. So if you wear a mask to stop the virus, how does that help keep it out of your eyes? I do feel sorry for the folks that live in Seattle, but why shut down the entire state?

Johnny B
5 months ago

I see this question as A or B, with available answers A,B,C, & D.
It appears 61% (38+15+8) have some reservations about the situation media coverage and government response.
Giving three answers associated with the “overblown” side is a great tactic to downplay the real opinion data through obfuscation.

That said, there are facts you cannot deny:
– the Covid19 is serious for certain high risk groups
– our government response to this disease is different than every previous illness, shutting down much of the economy

Rich T
5 months ago

Emily, you’re right that people should be kind to one another. The problem is that the invitation to leave comments will always involve differences of *opinion*. If this were some kind of peer-reviewed scientific journal, there would be a stipulated base of replicated experimental data, i.e. *an agreed upon base of facts* that would inform the discussion. Unfortunately, it’s obvious from a full reading of the comments on this page or the survey page that no stipulated base of facts exists.

Forty years ago there existed 3 major national TV networks, a handful of weekly news magazines, a handful of flagship newspapers, and many regional and local newspapers – all drawing from a broad base of agreed upon facts, all handled by responsible, professional journalists, and all following a strict retraction policy when errors were discovered. Reputable newspapers still follow that policy. For TV and radio there also existed something called the “Fairness Doctrine”, an FCC rule that covered broadcast journalism news. It began to erode in 1985, and today no longer exists: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_fairness_doctrine

With the “equal time” rule gone and the explosive growth of cable news, several additional national broadcast news sources came into being and the audience for broadcast news became more fragmented. With no longer any requirement to present the other side of any argument, some news outlets took on a determined slant in their reporting and editorial policies, embracing particular political agendas in the process. With the internet came even more news and opinion sources. Anyone with a blog could now opine from sunup to sundown, say more or less whatever came to mind, and as we’ve seen in many cases, present outrageous stories as fact that were complete fabrications (and for some, make a lot of money in the process).

We’re now in a country where people tend to stay within their own echo chambers – each with their own unique political slant, and with differences in how rigorously they conform to the facts of history, science or fact check current events. Is it any wonder people get frustrated, angry and hostile when it appears that those who disagree with them are either ignorant or outright lying? What do you expect? If RVTravel doesn’t want hostility, perhaps RVTravel should not ask such loaded questions in reader polls?

In the meantime, I fear for the future of this country. Intolerance is often cited as a cause – but it’s actually a symptom. I believe that the cause of intolerance is that people no longer really know what to believe, and cling to whatever makes them feel better. We cannot afford that vague sense of what’s right. We cannot afford to be intellectually lazy. We need to use our best judgement to demand and to vet the best, most reliable information available. We live in a democratic republic. WE are the root of the government. The survival of our government depends on each and every citizen to be as factually well informed as possible to guide the country in the right direction through voting and initiating changes where needed. We are entitled to choose our own *opinions* but we are NOT entitled to choose our own *facts*. We have much work to do.

Gman
5 months ago
Reply to  Rich T

Well said!

PJ Nyvall
5 months ago
Reply to  Rich T

Then there is GOD’s word the Bible, to know what is the truth, the 10 Commandments come to mind, plus the words of Jesus on how to discern the truth. So many have lost their way, going there own way. GOD loves the sinner, but hates the sin. Put Christ on the throne of your live and you’ll see things very differently. read John 3:16 and 17.

Jim Schrankel
5 months ago
Reply to  Rich T

Very well said!

Billy Bob Thornton
5 months ago
Reply to  Rich T

Walter Cronkite, Dan Blather were flaming liberals. They were just more sneaky about it. Our eyes have been opened by the first, non political, non armed forces member, ever elected to the office. How this man has the stamina to put up with the fake news is astounding. He will be reelected to another four years, and will course correct further thks misguided ship we are sailing.

They hate him, that’s why you know he’s right. He called the Wuhan flu, when everybody called him wrong. If there is a God, he certainly is looking down with approval.

Thomas
5 months ago

With all the news about coronavirus, there is NOTHING in the news about plain old FLU. Did it suddenly cease to exist. Just wondering?

Rich T
5 months ago
Reply to  Thomas

The typical infection rate for seasonal flu is between 5% and 20% of the population. Only 3% to 11% develop symptoms. Furthermore, the flu is seasonal due to dryer air in Winter (heating systems dry out indoor air, sub-freezing air outside is dry). Under these conditions bronchial passages become dryer, making more difficult the job of the cilia that pulse continuously to expel contaminants from the breathing passages. Some part of the population has residual resistance to flu from exposure to previous seasons’ similar virus, and there is a part of the population that is vaccinated. The seasonal flu outbreak will end through a combination of “herd immunity” and change of seasonal conditions that no longer favor transmission of the virus.

It’s worth mentioning that *none* of these factors apply to the current novel coronavirus. It’s also worth noting that no deaths attributed to COVID-19 illness are attributed without a positive test for the novel coronavirus.

Given the differences, the flu is of much less importance to public health than the novel coronavirus, and the information flow confirms that. If you’re really interested, you can get the latest weekly report on this season’s flu here. It only took a Google search:
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

Teri
5 months ago
Reply to  Rich T

Thank you for the facts…

Bob p
5 months ago

Since so many want to blame our president for inaction let me run this by you. When Obama care became the law of the land there was language about assisted suicide. I don’t remember the exact page, but it was in the lower 200’s where when you reached the age for Medicare you would be scheduled an appointment for counseling about your health. If your health was not top notch you would be counseled on possible assisted suicide in order to save funds for Medicare. So we could blame Covid-19 on Obama care as a way of eliminating the elderly who are using up Medicare funds. It makes as much sense as all the rest of this idiosy.

Roy Christensen
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

This “Death Panel Myth” was debunked. You are repeating old fake news that has no place in the discussion about the current administration’s lack of preparation and foot dragging when it comes to Covid-19. The Trump Administration is responsible for defunding the pandemic unit that was part of Homeland Security.

Teri
5 months ago

I’m not a Trump supporter and i think his piss poor management and dragging his feet are why we are in this mess. And he did de-fund the pandemic unit, but so did HW Bush and Obama. Seem the season is over by the time they get into office and they de-fund the program. Just saying.

Skyler
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

The president IS to blame for this incredible debacle of a response. In fact, the current administration knew about it on January 1, 2020. Good grief, he’s blaming everyone and their cousin. He’s blaming nurses for stealing masks to make a buck. He’s not addressing WHY there wasn’t an immediate response to what was clearly playing out in China and then South Korea. What does Obama have to do with it?

Rich T
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

So… when was the last time you: saw Bigfoot? Elvis? Were abducted by aliens?

Bill T.
5 months ago

I am a bit confused, Emily. Was this supposed to be an essay, commentary or just poling results. The “what readers tell us” in the subject line, could have been easily covered from a “click here” link on the main page. Maybe it is just me, but I was hoping this would have been an essay based opinion piece. Thanks and keep up the good work. RVTravel.com is an excellent “go to” resource and I look forward to it daily.