Not concerned about coronavirus? Be considerate of those at high risk


As with any emergency, there will be a minority who refuse to heed warnings from experts. However, it’s one thing to put your own well-being at risk. It’s another thing to put others at risk.

Case in point: the COVID-19 pandemic has attracted a mixed response from citizens, government officials, and the media. Early on, even the highest levels of the US government and some in the media suggested that coronavirus was no more a threat than the seasonal flu.

That claim is untrue. Early data suggest that the mortality rate of coronavirus is significantly higher than the flu. Although it has varied from country to country depending on a variety of factors – including the effectiveness of the initial response – early data from the World Health Organization suggests that 3-4 percent of reported cases have resulted in death. In comparison, the mortality rate of seasonal flu is 0.1 percent.

To be clear, we do not know the exact mortality rate at this point. The data is still early and subject to change as more cases are reported. And like with all statistics, limitations on reporting make it impossible to be 100 percent precise. Additionally, the reported mortality rate will likely be higher than the actual mortality rate since not all infections will be reported. The same is true of the seasonal flu and other illnesses.

Nonetheless, what we do know about COVID-19 warrants a serious response from not only governments but businesses and individuals as well. We all have a part to play to prevent the spread to vulnerable populations.

Aside from individuals with underlying health conditions (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease), seniors appear to be the most at risk from this outbreak. That’s according to both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

So what should you do, exactly?

The most important thing that you can do right now is to take the pandemic seriously. Heed the advice of health experts, particularly the CDC, as well as state and local health officials.

The CDC recommends that you should wash your hands regularly, avoid large groups, and cancel unnecessary travel plans. Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public spaces. And if you do touch surfaces in public – such as door handles, elevator buttons, etc. – again, wash your hands. These recommendations are especially important for high-risk groups.

Lastly, help combat the spread of unsubstantiated rumors and junk science on social media. Inaccurate information just leads to confusion and panic, and it potentially puts people’s lives at risk. If you share an article, make sure it’s from a credible source.

Remember, we’re all in this together. Do your part to keep your community safe.

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