Can the surgeon general cure the coronavirus crazies?

Mar 9, 2020, 1:00 PM

As much as I wanted a break, coronavirus kept popping up in my weekend.

Wait! I don’t mean the actual disease itself. I mean the topic and, I’m sorry to say, the fear of coronavirus.

While in a drug store, I heard a couple of clerks grousing about how much coronavirus talk there is in the media and how it is driving unreasonable fears.  

Then, I watched one of their coworkers leave the store as she was getting off of work – carrying two shopping bags full of toilet paper.

At this point (at least when I wrote this), coronavirus has killed fewer than two dozen people in the U.S. So I have tried to keep things in perspective and talk in a calm, reassuring way about coronavirus. In the media and at home.

Despite this, even my house was slightly panicked over the weekend. Our 7-year-old, after waking up sneezing and wheezing (things she’s experienced many times because she suffers from allergies and asthma) became convinced – yup – she has coronavirus.


That’s why I was so glad to talk to the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, Monday morning.

He told me that despite the media hype — and the very real coronavirus deaths we’ve experienced in the U.S. — the chances of an American contracting COVID-19 are still very low. 

That’s a relief — and it really felt like Surgeon General Adams was telling the truth because he didn’t pull punches on some things. Like when he told me that coronavirus might be more contagious than the flu.

Even though my wife and I were able to talk our 7-year-old off the coronavirus ledge yesterday, that might change at any time (because playground hyperbole beats parental pragmatism just about every time). So I was really glad that the surgeon general told me this: Coronavirus has killed no one in Japan under the age of 50 and no one under 30 in South Korea, two of the hardest hit countries. 

And, it has killed only one person under the age of 20 in China — the hardest hit of anywhere.

I just wish Surgeon General Adams could reassure everybody who is trading stocks — and stocking up on toilet paper — and that they be persuaded by logic at least a little better than a 7-year-old.

Please, take the precautions recommended (wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick and don’t cough on anybody). Then, take two chill pills and call me in the morning. We’ll all feel better.

My diagnosis, however, is more panic. 

Jim Sharpe

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Can the surgeon general cure the coronavirus crazies?