It’s impossible to turn on the news, get onto social media, or talk to your neighbor without the coronavirus being center stage. We are displaying the full spectrum of emotions and responses in the US and around the world. In the US, people are on edge and most are not dealing with the prospect of a pandemic very well. Everywhere I look I see every possible emotion and response including: outright paranoia, fear, blame, panic, and denial. Most of these emotions are not constructive if we let them get extreme and consume us. Unfortunately, emotions are what they are. We cannot help how we feel, but we can attempt to channel our emotions into something at least in the ballpark of constructive.
Categories of responses:
Denial: Denial is the first stage of emotional processes ranging from grief, addiction, to dealing with anything unpleasant. I read an online comment a few days ago stating the coronavirus has been around for decades. We have all had the coronavirus at least once in our lifetime. Why do people think this is new? This person cannot be any deeper in denial. This is a new virus strain. Where has she been? I have read numerous comments obsessing over the flu. People are commenting online that more people have died from the flu and the mortality rate of the flu is 2 percent etc. The last estimate of the flu in the US is up to 29 million people have or have had the flu in the US this season. Of course more people have died from the flu. It’s actual mortality rate hovers around .1 percent. The CDC website as well as local state government sites publish historical and current information on flu statistics. Look them up instead of reading social media. It’s already here and mingled in with the flu is another common thought being spread on the internet. These people believe flu deaths this year aren’t even the flu. The denial process here is that nothing in their world will change because it’s already happening so why bother to worry. I’m sorry but the flu deaths are probably all caused by the flu in the US. The flu mortality rate and infection rate is pretty typical for the US. We have bad flu years and mild flu years. This year is in normal range. It’s only in China and they’re lying are pretty common comments. Well, it was only in China and they probably weren’t and aren’t being totally honest about the coronavirus data. Now it’s spreading and we can’t feel confident about any data out of China. Coronavirus in many ways remains a complete unknown. What is the true mortality rate? We don’t know. We think it maybe 2 percent. We are seeing that up to 20-25 percent of known infections need hospitalization. Our hospitals are full of flu victims. Is it really 20-25 percent? We don’t know. I don’t believe even China knows how many actual cases they have. The bottom line is that people in denial are not yet emotionally capable of moving out of denial. They are stuck until they are ready or forced to move to the next step.
Panic: Unless you can channel your panic into a whirlwind of useful activity, it serves no purpose. I know a couple of people completely drowning in panic. The world is ending. They’re going to die through starvation, sickness, riots, or be killed by our government. The apocalypse is nigh. Panic can be extremely dangerous. Panicked people make bad decisisions. Find a way to move yourself out of this phase if it’s where you are. Step away from the tv, computer and smartphone. Go shopping when the stores aren’t full of people. Talk to other people who will help you calm down. I have a couple of friends living in large cities who are witnessing long fuel lines, people wearing masks, and empty shelves. It is hard to keep calm under those circumstances.
Fear: It is basic human nature to fear the unknown, uncontrollable, change, and anything different from ourselves. I think most of the world is experiencing some level of fear when it comes to a new virus and a looming pandemic. We all have to find ways to calm our fears and use them for a good purpose. For example: If your over riding fear is not having food, then make a list and go buy a reasonable amount of food that you can store. If your over riding fear is financial, then don’t spend any money right now on unnecessary items. If your over riding fear is catching the virus, wear a mask, avoid large crowds, and practice good hygiene including washing your hands and using disinfectant at home and at work. Small steps that enable us to control at least some portion of our fears are very helpful for most people. We can’t conquer and control something like the spread of a virus on our own. We can affect some level of peace of mind in our day to day lives.
Paranoia: I think I have heard and read every conspiracy theory under the sun over the last few weeks. 5G did not cause this virus or have anything to do with this virus. Aliens did not manufacture and spread this virus. We don’t know if it was manufactured in a lab or if it mutated on its own. We don’t know if it was unleashed on society by The Deep State, China, or a bullfrog in Louisiana. Stop being distracted with things that do not matter right now. Deal with known facts. We have a virus we know very little about threatening to become a pandemic. Our economies are starting to crash worldwide. How do we stop or slow the virus and how do we keep the economies from crashing? Those are the only two things that currently matter. The rest is interesting speculation.
Blame: People want a reason for anything that happens whether it is good or bad. People want to know why. China, the Chinese government, President Xi, Chinese biolabs, American biolabs, The Deep State, 5G, aliens, President Trump and probably the Easter Bunny (after all a bunny is a wild animal people eat) have all been blamed for the new coronavirus. Bad news. Even if you find someone or something to blame, our current circumstances have not changed. We still have to deal with our current situation. If this is just a virus mutation which has happened since the beginning of time, maybe no one is to blame. If someone intentionally unleashed a new virus, they need executed. Not imprisoned, but executed. Good luck with that.
Personally, I am experiencing a level of anxiety by the prospect of a pandemic caused by a new virus we know next to nothing about. My answer is to follow the news so that I know as much as possible about what to expect and what is to come. My answer is to continue to enjoy my life and take a few simple steps to be prepared for the worst. Hopefully, we will not see the worst in the US. The point of life is to go out and live it. Make everyday count. You might be killed in a car wreck tomorrow. You might live through a pandemic that kills millions. You don’t know. You never have known. You never will know. That’s what makes everyday and every person in your life special.