I'm a Dad of Four, Here's Why I'm Keeping Calm About Coronavirus
I've been to countless Black Friday events, but those don't hold a candle to what I witnessed during a shopping trip at my local Costco in Utah last weekend. Shelves were emptied as customers swarmed the bottled water and toilet paper aisles picking them clean almost instantly. At one point I couldn't even move my cart in any direction as a stampede of people pushed my wife and I forward toward the checkout lines.
I know everyone around me was panicking because of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)—as well as the disease it causes (COVID-19). Since the virus was first discovered in China at the end of 2019, scary news headlines keep popping up, some having the same effect of jump-scare scenes in horror films. With each new revelation, the stock market plummets, the travel industry grinds closer to a halt, and the level of global panic skyrockets.
But my family of six (my kids are 8, 6, 4, and 1 years old) isn't freaking out about the virus. It's not to say coronavirus should be ignored, but when you take a moment to read the facts, it puts things into perspective.
Deaths concentrated within the Hubei province where the disease originated have pulled up mortality rate reports considerably, but reports have shown the mortality rate elsewhere in China is between about .4 and .7 percent. And, per the New York Times, "the true fatality rate could be even lower" because infected people may not even know they have it since they may not "show any symptoms at all" or have a mild case. In fact, more than 80 percent of cases of coronavirus are mild, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Coronavirus also affects each age group differently. Most deaths have occurred among those 80 years and older, followed by those those aged 70 to 79 years. Death rates are lowest for people under 30—there were eight deaths out of 4,500 cases in China, according to BBC—and none have been children age 9 and younger.
In general, there have been few infections in kids reported, according to another report published in JAMA. And children with confirmed coronavirus are usually among those who have only mild symptoms. That should be a relief for parents everywhere.
Let me also point out experts are still more frightful of the flu, one even saying the risk of coronavirus is "trivial" compared to influenza. About 80,000 Americans died from the flu during the 2017-2018 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was the deadliest it had been in more than 40 years. There were also 186 pediatric deaths. Not to mention, there are up to 646,000 people who die every year from the flu worldwide—with nary a headline at all.
When it comes to both the flu and coronavirus though, experts agree proper hand washing is a great way to prevent both viruses. Another reason why my family isn't overly afraid of this virus.
Let's also keep in mind we've been here before. Swine flu, Ebola, MERS, and SARS all had their day in the media spotlight, all caused a global panic, and all were brought under control. That's already starting to happen where all of this began as the number of new coronavirus cases in China are steadily decreasing.
I'm hopeful that will be the case in America and the rest of the world, but in the meantime, I'll keep sticking to the facts and staying away from the daily madness that may do more damage to my family in the long run.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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This article originally appeared on Parents.com