Today, we are witnessing the viral spread of fear that is collectively damaging economies of small and large business alike and global economies.
My prayers and condolences go out to everyone already effected by this, in terms of loss of life, illness, and closure of business and or impact on personal economies and domestic lifestyle.
Everyone is affected or soon will be. We did a podcast with a fellow photographer from Italy yesterday (listen here) who painted a grim reality of current life in one of the densest populated countries in the world. A dystopian affair, with few to nobody on the streets, hospitals filled to the brim and government agencies scrambling to determine the best course of action.
As I have indicated in previous posts on social media, I initially thought differently about this virus. Comparing data at the time to other current diseases/virus-induced death patterns the data was not significantly more aggressive. What I failed to account for, and what worries me most now is not so much the virus itself...
[INSERT DISCLAIMER - Notice I did not say discounting the virulent nature and/or the real susceptibility I personally am to contracting it]
...rather the hysteria and herd mentality driven by our innate fight or flight response to emergencies that are now driving motivated activities in this country.
I am now concerned. Both for the virus itself, but more about the cascading impact and level of pandemic fear circulating through our news and social media and writing this post to urge everyone to do their part as a community to not exacerbate the oncoming negative cascade that fear-based calamities typically bring about, to give you an insightful alternative to fear… to contextualize what you are hearing…
Death Rates...How we as a species react to death is an instinctive and primal response. Whenever there is any sort of crisis that impacts us directly and interferes with our conditioned way of life, we go ape-shit - all induced by the center of our brain called the amygdala (fight or flight) that has been trained over thousands of years to react. Some of us curl up in a ball, some of us pump our fists and head to war, some of us terrorize supermarkets and hoard - toilet paper.
So when data about coronavirus invade our airwaves, our amygdalas automatically induce RED ALERT!
I would like for a second to contextualize the numbers.
I culled data from CDC and Johns Hopkins, which incidentally, is one of the research facilities trying to develop the vaccine for Corona.
On one of the worst days for Coronavirus in China (February 10, 2020), 108 people died. But on a given day, globally:
26,283 people die of cancer every single day
49,041 people die of cardiovascular diseases daily
4,383 people die of diabetes on a daily basis
80,000 people died of flu last winter in the U.S.
Half a million people die every year from smoking cigarettes
90,000 people die annually from alcohol-related illnesses
Suicide takes on average 2,191 lives
Mosquitoes take the lives of over 2,740 people every year
HUMANS kill an average of 1,287 fellow people, every single day.
So what am I most concerned about?
Globally, our healthcare system is not equipped to handle “SWARM” capacity. Combine that with the fact that we are still in flu season, and now pollen in a lot of communities… and you have the makings of placebo swarms. People thinking they have corona and swarming the hospitals, clinics, doctor offices out of context. The health care system will be OVERRUN. In turn, the cascade of this will further strain the hospital from other healthcare-related needs from existing patients, and incoming patients afflicted with non-corona based symptoms… heart attack, injury, cancer, etc etc etc. This is already happening in northern Italy.
One of the most successful countries to have dealt with Corona so far has been South Korea. Primarily because they have a national healthcare system already in place and standardized early on the testing protocols by conducting early testing and standardized quarantine practices for anyone afflicted. They were strict, uniform and almost authoritarian about it. Conversely, here in the US, we have been slow to react. Politics, as usual, has interfered with the communal and collaborative response. Only recently have we started testing - nearly two months after the disease was first reported. This delay in the rollout is what concerns me most because Corona is asymptomatic (see next bullet)
Corona is asymptomatic - meaning you can be sick with the virus but not exhibit any symptoms BUT still be highly contagious. In fact, some research has shown that those not showing symptoms but still infected are more contagious than those fully symptomatic - translation: it's probably too late to prevent extensive community transmission.
The endemically sick are the most vulnerable. Like other viral respiratory tract infections — flu, respiratory syncytial virus, even rhinovirus (cause of the common cold) — concurrent medical problems make coronavirus infection much more serious. Estimates from China suggest the mortality rate among those older than 80 is 15%. That's why the reported identification of cases in a Washington nursing home is particularly worrisome.
The supply chain across the globe for much needed medical supplies is already stressed and will continue to worsen. Combine this with unnecessary hoarding and the supply of masks, for example, is dangerously low. If you are not exhibiting any symptoms you don't need a mask. If you are coughing or sick you should be home anyway. A mask will do very little to prevent you from the transmission of the virus.
So what can you do? (Straight from the CDC)
Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can cause people to avoid or reject others even though they are not at risk for spreading the virus.
For most people, the immediate risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. Older adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease, are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.
There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
LIMIT interaction with others.
ESPECIALLY Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
YOU SHOULD BE PRACTICING THIS SORT OF HYGIENE REGARDLESS.
You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Seek medical advice if you develop symptoms. THIS DOESNT MEAN GO TO EMERGENCY ROOM. SELF MONITOR.
Have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with the ongoing spread of COVID-19. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
Make nutrition a priority -- which is especially important if your immune system may be compromised -- even when your trips to the grocery store are limited.
Note: The FDA has advised all Americans should “only purchase enough food and essentials for the week ahead.”
Think about all of this in context of promise and opportunity
Many of us are now confined to quarters. For those of us still employed this can present opportunities for re-invention. I have listed below some of the things we are doing.
Increased time with family: Having meaningful discussions brought to light by this global crisis. How are you using this time to better connect with the people you love?
Focus on self: Key to surviving Coronavirus is a healthy immune system, which comes from sleep, meditation, stress reduction and exercise. How are you using this time to take care of your physical and emotional life?
Reinventing your business: Could this be the time your company ditches your legacy business model and pivots into a more profitable niche post-Coronavirus? Maybe it's time to focus on your social media strategy and reinvent yourself - see #4.
Taking your company digital: COVID-19 will accelerate our digital lives. Here’s a chance to digitize, dematerialize, demonetize and democratize every aspect of your business… education, healthcare, products and services.