The Coronavirus, God, and a World out of Our Control
The coronavirus has now spread to over 60 countries, with major outbreaks in China, South Korea, Northern Italy, and Iran. The global numbers are staggering: nearly 90,000 reported cases and over 3,000 deaths. As of Monday afternoon, there were over 90 confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, with six deaths. Of course, given the current pace of developments, these numbers are already out of date.
Naturally, people are alarmed, even frightened. Despite our recent bouts with Swine Flu and even Ebola, this one just feels different, partly because it’s obvious that scientists, reporters, and national leaders are learning on the fly with this one, partly because, at least in America, media pundits and presidential candidates are seizing the opportunity to point fingers and gain political advantage, and partly because social media is very, very good at spreading panic.
Panic, however, is almost always the wrong response. Though we know that the COVID-19 virus has spread to every inhabited continent and will soon earn the title “pandemic,” that word, as one public health expert told Bloomberg News, is too often used in movies as “a proxy for a deadly apocalyptic virus.” So, it can be misleading. Is COVID-19 serious? Absolutely. Unprecedented? Maybe. Apocalyptic? No.