Assorted Ideas

Is Coronavirus That Bad?

Is the coronavirus that bad? Really? Or is our mainstream news media freaking out again, misleading everyone?

By David Stone

Updated March 13th, 2020.

What’s worse? Public illiteracy about medical science or how mainstream media fuels ignorance for clickbait?

Related update, February 29th, 2020: Coronavirus: What should you do?

The questions arise out of news stories all the time. But mostly, it’s about exercise or nutrition where it’s so easy to snag contradictory ideas pushed as fact.

But today’s big hot button is the coronavirus. The New York Times pumped out four screaming headlines in the last day, topping that with Live Updates.

In blood red.

Is the coronavirus that bad?
Media outlets tell us that this virus gets its name from the spikes sticking out from its side, like the sun’s corona. But they don’t tell you what a virus is, do they?

The rest of the media follows suit. Virtually all feature front page or above the fold coverage.

But is is really warranted? Does the panicked run on face masks make sense?

Here’s a simple FAQ for perspective.

Coronavirus FAQ: Is it really that bad?

How many people have died from the coronavirus so far?

4,300 and counting worldwide. These are mostly in China where the epidemic has slowed.

In a normal year, how many people die from the flu?

In the United States alone, where Centers for Disease Control keep good records, the average is around 60,000.

What is a virus?

There are thousands of viruses, many helpful and a very few harmful, but they all share the same story: They can’t live alone. Because a virus lacks vital abilities within an incomplete gene code, it always attaches to a host to replicate and grow. Usually, that’s a bacteria, and it’s parasitic. Millions of these interactions happen in your body every minute without any adverse effect.

What makes the coronavirus different?

Like earlier lethal viruses of Chinese origin, SARS — for example, something about the virus kicks off human immune systems, especially in the lungs. No one’s sure why yet nor why many people exposed to viruses never get sick. Again, that’s not uncommon. Viruses are both mysterious and ubiquitous.

Does wearing a face mask protect you?

No. You breathe in all kinds of things around any face mask. What they’re effective at is preventing you from spreading germs of all kinds.

In perspective, how many die of hunger every day?

This simple truth tells you all you need to know about how badly the mainstream media promotes ignorance. While news sources sound the alarm over 4,300 coronavirus deaths in over three months, 25,000 people die from hunger related deaths every day. Full stop. This horrifying figure is well known, but the news media ignores it.

Coronavirus Conclusion

The last is the one that drives me crazy, year after year. One-third of those starving to death every day are children, and the mainstream media freaks out over a tiny coronavirus impact, scary because it’s new and mysterious.

But not really, not so much. Millions die every year from viral infections. You just don’t hear about it in screaming front page headlines.

So, is the coronavirus really that bad? Any lethal virus is bad and dangerous. But the reporting may be worse because it deflects attention away from the day’s serious issues going unresolved. Panicky overreactions also run the risk of overloading the health care system, impacting other, more dangerous diseases by straining resources.

4 replies »

    • Nothing I’m aware of, but this seems to be the latest in mainstream media hype. So far, this virus is nowhere near matching the normal impact of the annual flu season. Always possible it could worsen, but they’re treating it like a horrible epidemic, something for which there is zero evidence so far.

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