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OUR VIEW: ‘Overreacting’ could save lives

Our corner of the world seems far removed from the way things were a week ago.  

In the blink of an eye, restaurants have shuttered, grocery store shelves have become bare and the population has been encouraged to go against our typical human nature and isolate ourselves from society.  

The WHO, CDC and other organizations are cautioning the public that, while the measures being taken are extreme, they are necessary. Still, people aren’t taking this seriously.  

Social media is filled with statements like, ‘Only old people can catch coronavirus,’ or ‘I’m going out for drinks anyway,’ or even better yet, ‘Coronavirus is a scheme concocted by the media/China/the government to create global panic.’  

These statements are dangerous, and display a gross misunderstanding of the situation at hand. There’s no denying the inconvenience of disrupting our daily lives for an indefinite amount of time, but the inconvenience is worth preventing more people being at risk for COVID-19.  

One glance at the way things are going in Italy – a country on total lockdown with almost 30,000 cases –should make it clear to Americans: the response some are considering an ‘overreaction’ can, and will, save lives.  

The more we can slow the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the more likely it is that we won’t reach a disaster of Italy-level proportions. Our hospitals, as they’re set up now, can’t handle an influx of patients with COVID-19. Our elderly population is depending on us to help keep them healthy.  

When the nightmare that is the COVID-19 outbreak is over, we genuinely hope we can look back and say, “Wow, we overreacted.” But at the end of the day, that’s the cost of these preventative measures working: it’s only an overreaction if it works.