How We Underestimated The Coronavirus
A few weeks ago, I didn’t believe the coronavirus was a threat. Now, I’ve been proven very, very wrong.
I’ll be honest and say that, a few weeks ago, I didn’t believe the coronavirus was a real threat.
At that point, there were only a few cases in the US, mostly confined to Washington state, and the rest of the countries with cases seemed to have them under control.
While medical professionals were urging caution, saying that even if it wasn’t super deadly, it was still dangerous, as it could create problems for the elderly and immunocompromised, and it was able to spread abnormally quickly, I ignored that.
It seemed like the panic surrounding it was a huge overreaction, and the data about its cold-like symptoms and low death rate only fed into my belief that it was no big thing.
Now, with a month and a half of hindsight, we know who was right.
The coronavirus has come in and ravaged the US. Life as we know it has been halted — thousands of events have been cancelled, schools have been closed, businesses have been forced to cease operation, and many people are confined to their houses.
The number of cases of the virus have increased exponentially over the last few days. The total number of cases is now over 65,000, with nearly 1000 deaths, and the number of cases is doubling every three days.
It has rapidly grown out of control, as we’ve lacked the proper funding and resources to deal with it, and medical professionals are now saying we need drastic action to make sure it doesn’t become even worse.
And, while it’s hard to admit, the reason we’re in this situation is because of people like me.
A month ago, it was easy to dismiss the problem. At that point, the coronavirus was an abstract threat to the vast majority of the population. You heard about the cases on the news, and the media tried to make it sound dangerous, but with only a few dozen cases and no deaths to speak of, it didn’t affect a lot of people.
There were few hypochondriacs who started stocking up on toilet paper and practicing social distancing, but they were the exception.
As a result, we didn’t respond. The denialism was so pervasive that it affected the CDC and President Trump, who refused to order testing kits for the coronavirus or take any other precautionary measures.
It took a drastic spike in the number of cases for us to respond, and by then, it was too late. Hundreds of people were already infected, and the virus was in almost every state.
Had we acted sooner, this could’ve been prevented. We could’ve cancelled events and issued travel bans and began quarantining in those early weeks, and it would’ve significantly hampered the spread of the virus, but we didn’t, because we felt like it would’ve been an overreaction.
So, as I sit at home in quarantine today, I can say with confidence that I was wrong. We were wrong. We all underestimated the coronavirus, and thought it was less severe than it really was. As a result, we undereacted, allowing for it to get far worse and leave us in our current position.
Hopefully, this can be a lesson to us. Every issue doesn’t need to seem like a threat to be a threat, and it’s better to be proactive and go too far to address a small crisis than to be reactive and let it become a major crisis. In the future, we should heed small warnings and focus on doing everything it takes to prevent problems from growing out of control, even if it seems like we’re going too far.
Because, in the end, it’s all about keeping the country safe. And if it’s between a few small restrictions or a disease outbreak, I know what we’d all choose in a heartbeat.