Locking down large cities, closing the entire restaurant industry, and shuttering the nation’s school system will do more harm than help in the government’s efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Officials have chosen to freeze the economy – a move that negatively impacts all citizens, whether or not they contract the virus – rather than use a targeted approach to best help the demographic most affected.
Reports from all countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19 show that elderly people are most likely to die after contracting the new coronavirus. Given this data, it seems that closing nursing homes and senior centers to the general public would have been a better strategy for combating this disease. Most fatalities had prior health conditions as well. Americans would have been better protected if officials had allowed immunocompromised people, or at-home caregivers of elderly citizens, directives to stay home from public places and self-isolate to protect themselves.
Kids are well-known spreaders of a wide variety of germs, but they are not typically severely affected by COVID-19. Closing schools is only harming our children’s mental health by abruptly removing them from their familiar routine and instead placing them at home with parents, the majority of which are ill-prepared to effectively home school.
Instead of a more targeted, effective approach that directs resources to those most vulnerable, we will all pay for this virus. Some with our physical health, and all with our financial stability. No matter how we are affected by the coronavirus, we all need to sort through the barrage of information available online. Scary-sounding bulletins emphasizing the coronavirus’s ability to mutate are circulating like crazy, especially on social media platforms. Their text sounds terrifying. The authors – who are not epidemiologists, virus experts, or even proficient at basic grammar – state that the virus has already mutated twice, and who knows how many more times it will mutate. Even scarier, they sound the alarm by claiming that we don’t know what it will do next.
This makes the virus sound like it could stand ten feet tall and tear building down with its bare hands. It probably carries a machete with dozens of tally marks on the handle. But when these bulletins are dialed down a notch or six to a logical level, their alarmist messages are systematically discredited.
According to the CDC and any other reputable scientific organization, all viruses mutate. This is why a person can catch the flu virus, then catch it again that same year; the virus mutated just enough to infect the same person twice. Covid-19 is caused by a strain of coronavirus that has indeed mutated, but in the routine way that viruses do. Usually, mutations negatively impact the virus itself, so there is no need to panic about a so-called “more aggressive” strain of coronavirus circulating among humanity. Top scientists say that a conclusive study on a virus’ mutations would take extensive effort and several years, so that won’t be forthcoming any time soon.
A vaccine is in the works, although we don’t know when it will be reliable enough for widespread use. The coronavirus’s mutations won’t impede a vaccine’s efficacy, though, just like the ones for other RNA viruses like measles, mumps, and yellow fever didn’t develop resistance to vaccines. So, let’s dial back the panic and focus on science. Because science is real, but so is the spread of misinformation.