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Panic vs Rationality

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#TrueTalkTuesdays 77

The media done a terrific job of causing panic worldwide.

Between people freaking out, fighting each other for supplies, virtue signaling, or just in complete denial – we get all the worst parts of humanity in a large dose.

Maybe I’m just not prone to panic. I can’t recall a time I have, and I have been in some pretty deep water (pun intended) that would have made most people panic and die (the story of my deep water accident here).

I am an engineer at heart, so I rationalize everything. I’m no doctor, so I don’t know enough to make an informed decision myself.

I look at statistics, listen to experts, and ask doctors. Based on what I have read and heard, I do not see reason to act like this is the end of the world.

That doesn’t mean this isn’t a threat and can be ignored. To the contrary, proper precautions have to be taken. Hoarding toilet paper isn’t helping anyone except big poop (looking at you Charmin and Quilted Northern) lol.

People that are going on shopping rampages are being selfish. Survival is usually a selfish endeavor though, so this is not a surprise. But the fact is that if people continued to shop as usual, we wouldn’t have shortages of any kind. But the problem is when a few people take all the resources for themselves, then we are left with people with nothing to wipe their ass with. LOL!

While I can’t help but laugh at what drove people to fight over toilet paper, the hoarding is a problem. Toilet paper isn’t essential, but breathing masks for healthcare workers is. Food and water is. If people can’t find food, we are going to have us some real problems of violence as people fight for food.

When hospital workers have to start choosing who lives and who dies because they don’t have proper resources to treat everyone like in Italy, more big problems. Or when everyone rushes to get tested even without any symptoms, it also overwhelms hospital resources for people that really do need to be tested and treated.

Who is to blame for the rush to hoard supplies and use hospital resources? The media.

The covering of this coronavirus has been sensationalized to unprecedented levels. 2.1 billion mentions in less than a couple of months, versus 69.5 million for HIV or 66.3 million for SARS.

That has undoubtedly forced everyone to fear the worst, especially when news outlets are filming supermarkets and showing supplies running low (some allegedly taking the supplies themselves to make it look like their is a shortage to make headlines).

Like him or hate him, Trump did a great job of coining the term “fake news” and bringing into mass awareness the lack of integrity that news organizations have. We used to naively believe that news was actually all facts. The reality is that news as it’s reported now are opinion pieces, and we have to discern what facts we can gather from them.

I try my best to source information from reputable sources like the CDC, WHO when it comes to this health crisis. As a young, fit, and healthy person, the statistics say I am very unlikely to experience symptoms, let alone die from this disease, by the tune of about .1% (source: https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-death-rates-by-age-south-korea).

That is the same mortality rate as the seasonal flu (source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html?fbclid=IwAR0XPPazYIprQsiUossGNXSmJxzKvGMXmRoVSouQh7cbw3WY0QgxGnCqEHM).

South Korea was hit early by the virus, and has seemingly contained it within a short interval. They practiced social distancing, and tested more people per capita than any other country in the world. The link from business insider shows their statistics, which are far lower than reported numbers of 4% to even 8%.

Why? A few things. One, South Korea has been testing 10,000 people a day, so they are catching way more cases. They estimate that 80% of people are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, so most people wouldn’t get testing if it wasn’t mandatory because of that (source: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200306-sitrep-46-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=96b04adf_2).

In the USA, where testing has struggled, we are likely seeing the 20% of the people who are experiencing severe symptoms that require hospital care. So the mortality numbers within that 20% are going to be much higher. So that is encouraging, as I suspect with mass testing roll outs the case numbers will shoot up while the mortality rate drops down.

The other factor South Korea has is hospital resources. Per 1000 people, South Korea has 12.3 beds. This is much more than most nations, with Germany at 8, France at 6, China at 4.3, Italy at 3.2, and the US at 2.8. This means it will take much more to overwhelm their hospitals (source: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/3/14/21179714/coronavirus-covid-19-hospital-beds-china). This is not an encouraging fact, and countries like Italy are already overwhelmed early on.

To be fair, Italy has a factor working against it, which is it’s home to one of the oldest populations in the world. Coronavirus is most deadly to those over 50, particularly with people that have preexisting medical conditions.

So we have to do our best to learn from that. Social distancing is what has been recommended to prevent rapid spread. In particular, I think anyone in that endangered demographic (50+ or immune compromised) or in close contact with them needs to be very cautious and definitely practice self quarantine. If you are sick, or someone in your family is sick, then you need to self quarantine as well.

Even though you might not be someone that can experience serious symptoms, transmitting to someone that can is the bigger danger for young people.

However, I see some people taking this to another level, preparing to shut down for months. The reality is the effect of the panic is far greater than the actual threat of the illness. If we shut down our economy, there would be a lot more damage and lives lost than the illness would ever kill. Like most things, balance lies somewhere in the middle.


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?

Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!

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3 comments
Bill Simmons says March 17, 2020

Well said

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J. Bruno says March 17, 2020

Very well said – thank you.

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Andrew says March 17, 2020

Strongly agree!

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