In the short term, we only have one weapon at our disposal to start stopping the Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). It is not a vaccine or a miracle treatment, neither of which is foreseeable to be achieved in the immediate future. I’m talking about our individual responsibility in the face of a collective threat that has triggered two kinds of diametrically opposed responses among the American public.
On the one hand, there are those who have reacted with an exaggerated anxiety that manifests itself in panic purchases of food and cleaning supplies. They are the people who have crowded supermarkets and have put their own security at risk by standing in long lines in public spaces a short distance from each other.
On the other hand, there are those who have Olympically dismissed the severity of the risk and behave as if nothing had happened, despite the overwhelming evidence of more than 200,000 infections and a lethal severity more than 10 times higher than seasonal influenza, which kills 36,000 Americans each year.
Both behaviors – exaggeration or disdain – are inappropriate but ignoring or minimizing danger can have much more serious consequences.
The images of young people crowding the beaches, bars and restaurants of various countries on the occasion of spring break are a terrible sign that they do not understand the gravity of the situation. It is true that many young people are less likely to have serious complications, but no one is exempt from the risk.
On the other hand, the decision of some supermarkets chains to assign special hours only to the elderly, the most vulnerable to the most severe symptoms of Coronavirus, is admirable. Most counties suspended classes, other cities closed public spaces, some more decreed curfews.
Ideally, encourage more responsible behaviors like these, rather than behaviors that minimize the seriousness of one of the most serious public health crises of the modern era. A bouquet of special admiration for our health workers, who risk their lives on an otherwise dangerous battlefront. They need masks and gloves to have the minimum necessary protection.
It is clear that many authorities have been put in check by the speed of contagion. If they did not initially size the size of the problem, reality prevailed. Now it is up to them to deal with both the medical and financial aspects: Enabling respirators and passing measures to provide relief to thousands of people who have temporarily lost their income.
No mathematical model can accurately anticipate the extent of the Coronavirus pandemic because the outcome largely depends on the actions we take or fail to take responsibly and individually.
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