By Evelyn Pyburn

Evelyn Pyburn
Evelyn Pyburn, Big Sky Business Journal

The coronavirus is a scary thing.

Not so much because of the threat of the disease but for the demonstration of how easily an entire population can be whipped into hysteria that far exceeds the reality of a threat.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has called the panic “dumb.” And, it is.

It’s not that the coronavirus (CORVID-19) isn’t a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously but it isn’t a crisis that should make people terrified to come out of their houses.

We the people of this country deal with problems and issues of this magnitude — and in fact much greater magnitude — every day, folks!

Usually, we take for granted that we can deal with the problems. Perhaps we shouldn’t take so much for granted, but we do have a great track record and we should be far more confident than what the current panic would indicate.

Why is everyone freaking out?

For all the world it feels a great deal like political correctness gone amuck. Is it somehow cool to lose your cool? Leaders of businesses and organizations are making decisions and taking actions that seem more directed toward public perception than dealing with a real problem.

So far 39 people in the US have died of this virus. 39.

Of the thousands of people who come down with the regular flu every year, 57,000 people in this country die from it. And it’s not just the flu; a similar number die from tuberculosis each year. Why aren’t people hysterical about these health threats if it is health threats they are really concerned about? They could be in panic-mode every year.

Back in 1918 we had a real flu epidemic. A forerunner of COVID-19, the Spanish Flu, swept the planet killing between 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, including some 675,000 Americans. It happened during World War I and many US soldiers fighting on European battlefields were left wondering why they no longer heard from home, only to return home and discover all their family had died from the flu.

But that has not happened since because, we the people, have done many things to mitigate such threats. From greater education about why it happened, to better hygiene, better medicine, better technology and medical facilities and smarter and more talented medical professionals. We took care of things, and so we will this time.

The problem with the panic is that it is creating other problems—really serious problems that are causing far greater harm than the disease. The panic is putting large companies into bankruptcy which creates far more job casualties. Jobs lost mean lost income, lost health insurance, leaving families unable to meet other health care needs.

Small businesses too are being pushed out of business, destroying the livelihoods of many others, not to mention the destruction of life-long investments. Lower returns on savings destroy the capital for future businesses or the viability of retirement funds for thousands or millions of people.

As distribution lines close and manufacturers shut down, all kinds of parts and components and materials needed to produce other important life-sustaining, business sustaining, job sustaining products are not available.

The impact of panic is immense and long –term and will never be fully measured.

It all makes so little sense, once one considers all that we have going for us.

And, have you talked to a little kid lately? All the crazy so-called adults are scaring them to death. Little kids shouldn’t be scared in such ridiculous ways.

Perhaps there is one positive thing that might emerge from all the extreme caution and health care prevention. Maybe fewer people will get the regular flu and fewer than 57,000 people will die this year. That would be one  every big positive.


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