Opinion: Now Is Not The Time To Panic
Opinion: Now Is Not The Time To Panic
Everywhere you look, there”s a story or a warning about Covid-19. The media is rife with stories about the virus, some of them twisted and spun to cause fear. In parts of the country, grocery store shelves are bare where toilet paper was once displayed. Schools are closing and events are being canceled. Yes, Covid-19 is serious and we need to remember that. But now is not the time to panic.
It’s hard not to panic, however. How could it not when we’re seeing well-established events like Boston’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade being canceled? Or the NBA shuttering games for the foreseeable future. Then there’s the news that flights from Europe will be stopped starting tomorrow. This isn’t the world we’re used to.
And people panic.
It doesn’t matter how often medical specialists tell us what we should be doing to safeguard ourselves. Things are different and we, as a species, don’t like change. It upsets our sense of well-being and we panic.
Or at least that is our first instinct.
That is when we need to take a deep breath, pause and think.
There is a quote from Frank Herbert’s science fiction novel Dune that applies in this instance:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.”
And that is what we must do. But we must also use common sense. It starts in our own homes and goes from there.
This is something that was brought home to me the other day. My mother is in the high risk group for contracting Covid-19 because of her age. She’s in good health. She’s active and she volunteers each week at the airport as an “ambassador”. Her assignment there is inside security at the international terminal. There she interacts with passengers, often handling their tickets or shaking hands. In other words, she comes into contact with people who are either coming from areas where Covid-19 is active or who might have been in contact with others from those areas.
This week, when her day to volunteer came around, we had a serious talk. My usually level-headed mother was determined to volunteer. Her fear wasn’t in coming into contact with passengers. It was coming into contact with people at the grocery store, etc., who she didn’t know and didn’t know where they’d been. It wasn’t until I pointed out those same concerns applied to the airport that she really thought about it. After more discussion, we decided she would give herself a break from the airport for a couple of weeks. It is better to play it safe.
But that discussion turned into a preparedness discussion. I don’t know about everyone else, but growing up in a household where one parent was a wee child during the Depression, our pantry was always stocked. It might not have been filled to overflowing, but we always have had at least a couple weeks’ worth of food. But now Mom, who is younger than my Dad by almost 9 years, looked at the pantry and started making a list of things we needed.
Or, to be more accurate, things she thought we needed. Why? Because she was responding to the sensationalized media reports and, while not panicking, worrying. It took a bit of time but we went over our stocks and made a better list of things to get. Most were replacements I already had on the list. Very little were actual food stuffs. There are a couple of things still on the list but they have been ordered and will arrive over the next few days.
Stop and think. Be objective. Think. (Yes, I know I said that twice.) Most of all, don’t panic.
Panic is why there are shortages of toilet paper in some areas and yet food stuffs are still on the shelf. The macabre in me chuckles at the thought of people stocking up on cases of TP and not making sure they have enough food in the house to last for a couple of weeks.
Panic is why some people–and I know of at least one family–are bugging out and buying isolated property to live on. This family, however, is still on the power grid and doesn’t have a reliable back-up power system. But they filled a second freezer with meat and frozen veggies. And looked at me like I’d grown a second (or third) head when I asked why. This was their move to survive the infrastructure going down because of Covid-19. The power grid would go down and we’d be without food. I didn’t roll my eyes but I pointed out that if things got that bad, their freezers wouldn’t help because they didn’t have back-up generators. How did they expect the freezers to work without power?
That is an extreme reaction, but it shows what panic will do to people. Another example is how so many bought up surgical masks even before the virus reached their communities. What they didn’t think about is they would need not only masks but eye protection if they were going to try to prevent infection by other people. Of course, many of those buying up the masks are the same ones we see pictures of wearing the masks below their noses.
Think and plan.
Not because Covid-19 is going to end civilization as we know it but because it will disrupt certain supply chains. Ask yourself the following questions:
Think, plan and don’t panic.
But most of all, don’t be a dick. Don’t be like the father who took a daughter to a father-daughter dance after his older daughter returned home from Italy and was already on self-isolation. It doesn’t matter whether the medical authorities told the family to remain home or not. Common sense should have told him he needed to make sure his entire family took precautions. Don’t put your personal wants ahead of common sense.
I’m not saying we should isolate ourselves. But we should be aware of our surroundings. We should be smart about where we go and when. Most of all, we must not panic because that will cause more problems than it solves. The facts are out there. Educate yourselves and your families.
And, while you’re at it, if your state and local representatives and senators are more concerned about politicizing the crisis than solving it, remember that when it comes time to vote in November. This isn’t a Democrat vs Republican or Never-Trumpers vs Trumpers issue. This is a public health issue and needs to be treated as such.
Let’s be smart, folks. Covid-19 isn’t going to be the end of the world.
But don’t forget to wash your hands.
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