Slow down with the hand sanitizer and ignore the media (Opinion)
Too much of a good thing can easily become a bad thing especially in this time of media-driven panic over the novel coronavirus. Obsessively washing your hands and using hand sanitizer can actually have the reverse effect and make you more vulnerable to disease. Here's the pull quote from an internal medicine specialist at Piedmont Healthcare:
By constantly using hand sanitizer, you eliminate the bacteria that helps build up your immune system, allowing antibiotic-resistant bugs to enter your system and make you very sick.” - Samer Blackmon, M.D. from Piedmont Healthcare article
If you stop for a moment and cut through all the dramatic graphics on TV and the scary tone of 'death toll' counts from COVID-19 and actually read what leading medical specialists are saying, you wouldn't be all that worried about coronavirus.
I've discussed the issue of the media-driven panic before, but it's time to say it again. You most likely won't get coronavirus, and even if you do, you will most likely be fine. In addition to having very similar symptoms as the flu and being more difficult to contract, the cases reported worldwide since the outbreak began in December are relatively small. About 120,000 cases compared to a BILLION cases of the flu. This is not from a political or media talking head, it's from the docs at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
COVID-19: Approximately 113,579 cases worldwide; 607 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 9, 2020.
Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year. - Reviewed by Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H.
Think about this for a moment. 600 cases compared to an estimated 45 MILLION flu cases in the U.S. Given the numbers, we shouldn't really even need to discuss this new virus. But everyone loves a good headline and a virus in the day and age of apocalypse driven entertainment and zombies is too good to pass up.
Here's why you shouldn't worry.
First of all, the spread of the virus according to the numbers being reported from the credible source of the World Health Organization are decreasing, not increasing. This from the New York Post on Sunday:
China is the origin of the virus and still accounts for over 80 percent of cases and deaths. But its cases peaked and began declining more than a month ago, according to data presented by the Canadian epidemiologist who spearheaded the World Health Organization’s coronavirus mission to China. Fewer than 200 new cases are reported daily, down from a peak of 4,000. - Michael Fumento, New York Post
Second, the mortality rate is absolutely skewed by the massive number of deaths in Wuhan and Hubei China, where we're not sure how many cases there actually were before the WHO stepped onto the scene. And the experts at the WHO caution about drawing a conclusion while the outbreak is still ongoing.
Third, an overwhelming number of cases are reported as mild and most cases out of 67,000 which had an outcome, 94% of people have already recovered. As far as current 'active' cases, nearly 9 out of 10 are only experiencing mild symptoms.
Fourth, there are no reported deaths of children under the age of ten. On the other side, this year the flu virus is killing a higher number of children than the flu season in 2016-2017 where 110 children died. 136 children are reported to have died from the flu virus in the current 2019-2020 season. That means for those of you who are new parents, worry about the real danger to your kids and talk to your doctor about preventative measures.
Thankfully, cooler heads are hard at work in our nation's capitol to make sure that the truth is not buried under the panic coming from news rooms and social media trolls. President Trump has been consistent on the issue, first making swift and decisive decisions to restrict travel and quarantine people arriving. And second, reminding everyone that the flu is an actual danger, which you can take certain precautions to protect yourself and your kids.
Any disease that is new and actually kills people will certainly put many of us on edge. But the over-washing of hands and bathing in alcohol based sanitizers are not the answer. Follow the CDC steps to stay as clean as possible without causing damage. Then eat right, exercise and take precautions if you are in a vulnerable category. Otherwise, live your life, go to work, eat out and focus on more important things in your life. The media has their job and you have yours. Don't let the agenda-driven press corps interfere with your life, just tune them out and pay attention to the facts, not the fear.
For me, the return to normalcy was putting down the hand sanitizer, dropping social media and being smart about health choices when it comes to exercise, food and yes, appropriate hand washing routines.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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