OPINION: The Overreaction to the Coronavirus


Ethan Hohbein, OwlFeed Journalist

It seems that every new year in recent memory has come with its share of bad news, ranging from the death of a celebrity to some sort of horrible event following in the month of January.

Although in this new decade many people, jokingly or not, somehow expected some sort of bad news to come. Well as the internet and people found out about the Coronavirus, the idea that a world-ending plague or illness that was catastrophic as the Black Plague would come and wipe humanity spread quickly.

But, it isn’t.

This is a normal virus that has been blown way out of proportion by the media and other groups alike. The outbreak of the Coronavirus in Wuhan, China, has been overstated and has made reactions unwarranted and quite hyperbolized.

Let’s take a look at the basics of the Coronavirus and how it’s gotten to the state it currently is in.

According to the CDC, this new Coronavirus is a betacoronavirus. Other betacoronavirus such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) have been around for a very long time.

All of these viruses originate from bats and evolve from animal-to-animal to animal-to-person and finally person-to-person. The 2019 Coronavirus itself is a respiratory virus with flu-like symptoms, with some cases resulting in pneumonia.

Currently, over 300 people have died from the Coronavirus with about 17,000 cases worldwide.

 Photo Credit: Getty Images

Although it is a new virus that is being researched and is largely unknown, there is plenty to know about it from the type of virus it is and its classifications.

I spoke with Alana Gacke, a registered nurse who informed me about the state of the virus and other important information. She said that one of the reasons people are reacting the way they are is because it is a new virus that is uncommon in humans.

Gacke stated that the Coronavirus shouldn’t be worried about, saying, “The flu is also very contagious, so is the cold, these things are things you can catch anywhere but you can do things to prevent from getting them.”

When talking about the spread of it throughout the globe and more specifically China, she talked about how illnesses spread throughout more clustered regions easier, especially if people aren’t made aware of how to stop illness through clean, healthy habits such as washing your hands and sneezing into your arm. “It’s just like any virus and it’s gonna take its course,” Gacke said.

She added that there are also silent carriers who are already immune to the virus.

“Even if you don’t say you’re superstitious, a lot of people are very superstitious,” Gacke said. She added that social media is a big factor in the reactions to the virus. “You wake up to check your Facebook, check your Twitter at lunch, you check your Instagram at dinner,” she said. “It’s constantly being shoved in your face all the time.”

She said that the main people who are at risk of contracting the virus are older people, little kids, or people who are immuno-compromised. She said the best way to keep safe from the virus is to follow basic health procedures that you normally take to avoid sickness. “The virus can’t stay in you forever; it’s going to take its course then leave….if you treat the symptoms you’ll be fine.”

Agua Fria Senior Chloe Dubé initially said she wasn’t worried about it. She said that it was “just another disease. We go through this every couple of years and it’s just how nature works.” Dubé believes that modern medicine can easily solve it along with flu-like symptoms that can be treated easily.

Dubé believes social media heightened the reaction but not necessarily is all to blame. “Even without social media people are very dramatic, myself included,” Dubé said with how people spread things and blow up things. Reactions can be out of hand. “All diseases and all illnesses should be taken seriously… it should still be taken seriously but it shouldn’t be blown out of proportion the way it is,” she said.

She credited the spread of the infection to countries that don’t have as many resources as others and suggested that we should be providing aid to those countries to help limit the infection.

“It’s not as complicated as other illnesses and diseases,” Dubé said. “I think with our modern medicine and with our technology, I don’t think [a vaccine] will take very long.”

The Coronavirus is surrounded by questions that can all be answered through some research and is easily avoidable if you take the necessary precautions that have been taught as basic ways to keep healthy.

The overreaction caused by social media is unnecessary, as the virus isn’t as big of a threat as people are currently making it out to be. Within the course of the year, it will most likely just fade away as another virus such as the flu, or a vaccine will come out and people’s immune systems will get used to it, limiting severe infections.