Ever since news broke of the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the United States (a Snohomish County man in his 30s), it seems as though people around me are panicking.
I recently returned from a trip to Asia with a cold and persistent cough. Even though I didn’t set foot in China, people have jokingly asked if I was in Wuhan—where the outbreak originated.
It was funny the first few times. Now, it’s just annoying.
Another friend who lives in Los Angeles asked if it was safe to fly into Sea-Tac Airport since that’s the airport the first confirmed U.S. case flew to. Really?
Was the airport shut down? No. People are just not thinking rationally.
On Jan. 25, I had planned to have dinner out with some friends to celebrate the Lunar New Year. We chose a seafood buffet place in Redmond. The morning of, one of them suggested that “since it’s a Chinese restaurant (it’s not) and because of the virus concerns, should we go somewhere else?” She said she had a weakened immune system and was concerned. For crying out loud!
First of all, the location where we were planning to have dinner wasn’t even a Chinese restaurant. Second of all, if she’s concerned about her weakened immune system, maybe she should just never gather in groups or eat out, ever. This person decided to stay home. The rest of us carried on with our dinner plans without incident.
But I felt attacked and that her comments were ignorant and dumb, even racist. It blows my mind that people around me are overreacting to this news.
Quoting the Washington Department of Health (DOH), “The immediate health risk from novel coronavirus to Washington residents is still considered low at this time.”
The DOH also says, “Allowing for misinformation to spread, stigma to thrive, or otherwise ostracizing community members is counter-productive to improving public health and safety.”
Stop overreacting and don’t stop living your life.
Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting any viral respiratory infections:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
- It is also important to stay at home away from others if you are sick.
For further questions, call the Snohomish County Health District between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily at 425-388-5088, or call the state health department at 800-525-0127 and press the pound key.