On Friday the 13th, as I sit here writing reports and preparing training, I listen to the radio, see news feeds, and get calls from correspondents, clients, and other christians.
And what I see is a panic continuing to rise and already overwhelming society. Not just here in the Fifty States, but around the world. It is here in the States that I see the most overreaction. Hysteria reigns. Just plain fear, for one thing. And fear and panic kills.
People, it is NOT that bad. This is NOT the end of the world. News stories (at noon, Mountain Time) report that there are about 137,000 “confirmed cases” of this disease in the ENTIRE world. That is just twice the number of people who die of “normal flu” here in the States in any given year, but a tiny fraction of those who GET “normal flu” here in the States each year. Only 40 Americans are reported as dead – and even there, the numbers are suspect: not all those people seem to have died from the virus. There are over 5,000 dead – fewer by far than have died around the world from a half-dozen different causes of death, from automobile accidents to flu to cancer, during the last three months. And of the 137,000 confirmed, about 70,000 have already recovered.
But you would think that people were dropping dead all around us. That we were already in a situation as the nations were in back in 1918 and 1919, where people were dying by the dozens on the way to the hospital!
As a result, schools are being closed in wholesale lots. Conferences and sports events are cancelled weeks in advance. Such decisions are made on pure emotion – people are freaking out. A single NBA player tests positive: the entire season is cancelled. A rumor sweeps a city and shelves are stripped of toilet paper and bottled water. A dozen people test positive and states of emergency are declared.
On Friday the thirteenth, the Governor of South Dakota ordered all schools in the state closed. There are all of 9 people statewide who have tested positive, and one death MIGHT have been related to coronavirus. Her panic is infectious: businesses are closing, stores being stripped bare, and people are screaming that tourists shouldn’t be allowed to come to South Dakota. Some are demanding that the Sturgis Rally (which is held in August) be cancelled.
In fact, in one major city (perhaps Denver; I’ve not been able to confirm) the authorities have closed all the schools. But they are also opening 40 child-care centers where the students can be housed since many parents cannot get off work to care for them at home. It did not seem to occur to the powers-that-be that these centers will provide the same conditions for spreading the disease as in the schools. Or is it because the teachers have unions and therefore must be protected, while minimum-wage child care workers are expendable? And the children don’t really matter?
(The CDC has already repeatedly urged localities to not close schools but simply to take better care of their students and staff. But apparently such common sense is “racist” and “proof” that Trump is an evil man who wants more Americans to die.)
I just was notified that the Grand County Public Library has been ordered to close indefinitely by the public health authorities “until normalcy returns.” I’ve received dozens of e-mails from various companies we do business with, assuring us that they are doing everything right and will get back to us when the lights come back on, so to speak. Government agencies which demand we comply with their directives and whom we must consult for approval are closing. The presidential press conference featured a long litany of press questions all designed to reveal how stupid, incompetent, and/or evil are Trump and anyone associated with him. The hysteria is strong in those.
And the stock market charts look like the path of a yo-yo. (It’s back up more at Friday’s close than it had dropped on Thursday, I think.) All with 50 or so American dead. What will happen when the death toll hits a thousand?
Meanwhile, Italy self-destructs, Germany seems to fear this more than it feared the fall of Berlin to the Russians, and Iran’s 4,000 year old civilization may be crashing. And China blames the US Army for starting the virus in Wuhan AND threatens to cut off medication, including potential vaccines, from the Fifty States. To punish America? Or because they really can’t supply anything anyway?
Panic is likely going to kill more people that the virus does, as it gets worse. And the economic reverberations may kill, injure, and harm many, many more. Consider just the Black Hills and the Sturgis Rally. As the 80th Rally, expectations were for 800,000 or more people to come to the Rally – that is more than the entire population of South Dakota. Cancelling the Rally would be a billion-dollar hit on the economy of the Black Hills, and many millions for adjoining areas and states. In many cases, vendors and workers who depend on sales and jobs and rents during that period will be bankrupted: products produced for the 80th Rally in 2020 are virtually worthless in 2021 and future years, and the opportunities for sales and jobs vanish.
The government response, already driven by panic, will no doubt get worse as the non-health negative impacts expand. And government’s own actions will result in deaths, injuries and financial losses. Both immediately and long-term. I’m already seeing this in all levels of government. There is much more to come. For instance, is it any wonder that Governor Noem’s fitness for office is being questioned?
The worst thing any of us can do is to panic, and do stupid things. Either doing the wrong thing for the right reason, or the right thing for the wrong reason, will hit all of us hard. Depending on government to deal responsibly with ANYTHING, let alone this Beer Flu, is also dangerous.