Ok, I’m jumping on the bandwagon with the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since I live in the Tampa Bay area, I thought I could get away with a big scary title. Is it just Google serving me articles from my area, or is Tampa one of the first after Washington state to get verified cases of the coronavirus?
Could I suggest a response and attitude toward all of this? My two cents says that we should respond with balance. We need to recognize that much of the information that we get is click bait! For example, take this article:
Tampa Bay Times: Hillsborough has tested 11 for coronavirus
When I first saw the article, I thought, “Oh no. We’ve bloomed from 2 cases to 11 overnight!” It’s not until the 19th paragraph that the article clarifies that only two of the tests were positive. That is, at the time of writing, four were still pending results, so only two are positive.
We need to realize this is all click bait. It’s not going to go away. You see those ads scattered around my page and the ads on the news article? Those are how we all get paid. The more people click on the article, the more people see the ads, and the more they get paid. For me, with my current distraction from writing, it’s barely enough to pay for the hosting on the blog. For the news companies, it’s their livelihood. I think it’s important to realize this, and then, I can see that the real takeaway from the article is that authorities are doing everything in their power to prevent the spread of the virus.
So, how should we respond to this whole situation? Most importantly, we need to check our salvation. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that “it is appointed unto men once to die.” Whether by virus, car accident, or old age, there’s no getting out of death. So, we need to make sure that we have put our trust in Jesus paying for our sins and have accepted his gift of salvation (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9). After that, we should have no fear of death because Romans 8:35-39 says that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
I think the numbers call for a balanced response as well. Worldwide, 3,584 people have died from the virus. In just the United States, we’ve had 11 deaths. From just the regular Flu, we normally have between 12,000 to 61,000 people die. Multiply the 11 deaths by 12 to get an annual number, and we are not even close to the regular flu. According to West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources, we estimate 300,000 people die from obesity. I read a saying on Facebook suggesting we see 11 people die from the coronavirus and we panic, but we see 300,000 die of obesity and we grab another bag of chips. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, we estimate 88,000 alcohol-related deaths a year. Perhaps that’s the “Corona-disease” we should be worried about.
That doesn’t mean that we take a stance of apathy and ignore the spread of COVID-19. Denise Reich makes a very good point:
The Mighty: The Problem With Saying ‘Only’ the Elderly and Immunocompromised Will Be Affected by COVID-19
As Denise says, most of us, if we do catch the virus, will just suffer a minor inconvenience. But, that’s no reason to forget that there are others that will fear death if they catch the virus. I can think of at least three people that I come in contact with regularly that are in that boat.
With that in mind, I can make a difference by improving my hygiene and health. I can increase the number of times that I wash my hands through the day. I can try to work on habits of avoiding touching my face. I can teach the kids in my life to do the same. If we boost our immune system to be able to fight off this virus better, we reduce the places were this virus can grow and spread.
One more thought: this may be our chance as a Christians to shine. We should be watching for the extra opportunities to share God’s love. I heard a radio host mention epidemics of the past. I researched the Antonine Plague. John Horgan says, “Christians were willing to provide the most basic needs, food and water, for those too ill to fend for themselves.” The others fled out of fear and left the infected to fend for themselves.
May we be a steady, fearless voice of reason in these strange times ready to spread God’s love and hope of salvation in any opportunity that arises.
- Ancient History Encyclopedia: Antonine Plague
- Canyonwalker Connections: Early Christian Responses to Epidemics Completely Unlike 1980s Response
- KFF: COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker (accessed March 8, 2020)
- CDC: Disease Burden of Influenza
- West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources: Obesity: Facts, Figures, Guidelines
- National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol Facts and Statistics