Since the outbreak of the coronavirus Covid-19, fear has gripped the hearts of people all across the world. There have been over 1,000 deaths that have been attributed to Covid-19, and there is no sign of the virulent spread of the virus will be stopping any time soon. I have seen several comparisons to the Black Plague and the spread of the Spanish Flu in 1920. This, along with inflammation by the media, has caused widespread panic and distrust all across the world. Racism and xenophobia has begun to appear towards China and those of Asian descent. Along with personal and media displays of racism, companies are showing acts of subversive racism. American Airlines has cancelled flights to China, with other companies beginning to follow suit. The situation has unfortunately become so dire that even my beloved sister, an English teacher in China, was told not to return for the time being while on vacation in London. This has been in large part due to media inflaming what has happened, and has led to the proliferation of fear, a plague more dangerous than any virus.
I am all for the freedom of speech. It is one of the rights given to the citizens of the United States, and I believe wholeheartedly in its proper usage. However, this becomes very problematic when media insights xenophobia and racism, either directly or subversively. Titles such as “Coronavirus ‘super-spreader’ speaks out after infecting 11 others with virus” by Fox News or “New Report on 138 Coronavirus Cases Reveals Disturbing Details” by the New York Times spreads fear and subversive racism by creating heated headlines that use buzz words such as “super-spreader” or “disturbing details” to create tension to what is already a turbulent situation. While I am certainly concerned over the spread of a previously unknown virus in a massive population, the amount of cases does not reflect the deaths. According to CNN, there are 43,101 confirmed cases of Covid-19. This means that roughly 2% of the cases appear to be fatal. Compared to influenza, which has currently 13 million confirmed cases and 6,600 confirmed deaths, Covid-19 is actually far tamer than what could have happened. Add this to a virus like Ebola in the Kivu epidemic, which has 3,876 cases and 2,253 deaths, this could have been far worse. Personally, I am more concerned over getting the flu or a bacterial infection than I am of Covid-19. Now, certainly, as someone with asthma, Covid-19 does concern me in terms of my personal health. However, the United States has a far more developed medical care system than China does. There have only been 13 confirmed cases in the United States and the CDC is doing a great job in mobilizing to contain the spread of the virus. While the pandemic in China is certainly scary to look at and a massive problem that must be tackled, things could have been much more disastrous. Had this been a hemorrhagic fever that was spreading at such a fast rate, I would be much more afraid.
It is the burden of citizens in each country to work together to stop the spread of Covid-19 and of fear of the virus. There are several ways to combat each issue. For the spread of the virus, things as easy as washing hands, covering your mouth when you cough, drinking lots of water, taking medication, taking vitamin supplements during the winter months can all have an impact in boosting your immune system. As for the spread of fear, spread scholarly articles about the virus, based in fact and research. I highly recommend posting things written by the CDC or the WHO. Stop the spread of fear by stopping the spread of divisive posts. And finally realize that China is not to blame for this issue. This is the reality of viruses. They come, they go, and humans can only do so much. The Chinese are in need of assistance, both physically and morally. So to help, stop the spread of fear in its tracks. The world will not come crashing down. Life always finds a way.
Annie is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Studies and Heritage and Museum Studies, as well as minoring in German. She loves adventures, coffee, and dogs. This is her third year with the Concordian.