Why You Still Shouldn’t Panic about Coronavirus

There are now about 225 confirmed cases of coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) and 14 deaths in the U.S., although these numbers may have changed by the time you read this. Yes, that is scary. But, let’s put that in perspective.

The virus has been in the U.S. for at least six weeks.

The population of the U.S. is more than 327 million. The population of Washington state where all but one of the deaths has occurred is more than 7 million.

At least seven of these deaths were residents of the same nursing home where this virus spread in a facility full of high-risk persons that likely were in close contact with each other.

In all of the death cases for which I can find information, most of the people were male and over age 70, and in the only case of someone younger, that person had significant underlying medical problems.

I am not trying to minimize this. Of course, this is serious and we must take appropriate actions, which the federal and state governments are. My only purpose in writing is to help the many people that I talk to that are very scared to understand that while we do need to take precautions, let’s be reasonable and not overreact.

We are going to see this get worse, before it gets better. There will be more infections and more deaths. But, with few exceptions, this does not need to disrupt your daily life.

What would I recommend at this time:

  1. This is a great time to go all Howie Mandel – fist bumps, or better yet, elbow bumps, as our Idaho Governor Brad Little demonstrated this week.
  2. If you have fever, cough, shortness of breath or feel ill, stay home and call your doctor if your symptoms are severe or worsening.
  3. If you need to seek medical attention, call first and alert your doctor, the urgent care facility or emergency room. We will take precautions to make sure you don’t put health care workers or others in waiting rooms in jeopardy.
  4. Wash your hand with soap and water for 20 seconds before meals, after coming into contact with groups of people, after coughing or sneezing, or after touching banisters, counter tops, or doorknobs in public places.
  5. Spring break is coming up. If you are not elderly and you are in good health, generally speaking, there is no reason you should not plan to take your planned vacation. While I probably wouldn’t recommend travel to Washington state right now, other travel in the U.S. can be considered as relatively low risk. International travel will pose more risks, and if you plan to travel internationally, avoid the countries on the CDC’s level 3 travel warnings, and unfortunately, that means Italy, but frankly, I would avoid even level 2 countries for right now. If you do choose to make that travel despite the warning, just do us all a favor and work from home for the first two weeks following your return to the U.S.

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