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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Downplaying the severity of the coronavirus is counterproductive

An updated map of the coronavirus from the Center for Disease Control. As of Feb. 22, at least 2,362 people have died due to the coronavirus, and over 77,988 people have been infected worldwide with the majority of these cases occurring in mainland China. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Anya Marquardt is a freshman English major and journalism minor.  

In late 2019, a new strain of the respiratory illness known as coronavirus began to take form in Wuhan, China. A lot of opinions have been formed about the severity of the illness, and many sources, including Buzzfeed, The Daily Beast and SELF Magazine have stated that the flu poses more of a threat to Americans than the coronavirus ever will. 

However, we should not be putting influenza at a higher importance than coronavirus, as it has no “cure” or vaccine. The media has every right to portray coronavirus exactly for what it is: a global epidemic that will continue to infect and even kill people around the world until a cure is found. 

The virus has spread to dozens of countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, Russia and the United Kingdom. As of Feb. 22, at least 2,362 people have died due to the coronavirus, and over 77,988 people have been infected worldwide, with the majority of these cases occurring in mainland China. 

Downplaying the severity of this illness is insensitive to those in places like China, who don’t have access to the medical treatment that other countries, like the United States, have access to.  

People all around the world should also be more concerned about this new coronavirus because of the treatment methods. A vaccine for this strain isn’t readily available, and it won’t be for months or years. Creating vaccines can be dangerous and is also extremely expensive to produce. The most that people in infected countries can do to stay healthy is to follow the usual methods of avoiding germs, from washing their hands to wiping down surfaces that are prone to bacteria. 

The actions taken by the United States also show us the severity of the coronavirus. The State Department warned Americans not to go to China unless it is essential. All U.S. citizens, residents and their immediate family members who traveled to parts of mainland China are subject to health monitoring and the possibility of quarantine for up to two weeks. 

People around the world should be wary of the coronavirus due to the minimal research that has been conducted so far given how recent the new strain is, compared to the amount that doctors know about older respiratory illnesses, like the flu. 

While scientists and health professionals are quickly working to learn as much about the strain as they possibly can, there is still a lot that they are still unsure of. The genomes of the coronavirus strain are still being mined by scientists all over the world to learn more about the origins of the outbreak.

Overall, the new coronavirus needs to be treated as the international threat that it is. This should show people around the world how important it is for us all to be informed about what is being done to combat the virus. While it may be scary to think about this new disease infecting the world, no one should downplay it in order to make people feel better about the situation.

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  • S

    StephanieFeb 23, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I feel like the flu vs coronavirus talk was less to minimize the fact that this strain of coronavirus is untreatable and spreading and more in response to how the fact it originated in China has encouraged a LOT of racist sentiment. American Chinese restaurants have had impacted sales because there are people who are afraid to or who refuse to go to them because this strain of coronavirus is associated with its place of origin, China.

    It is unfortunate because, as stated in the article, this line of argument is insensitive to those afflicted by the virus and ignores a lot about the issues at hand regarding treatment. That said, it is used to combat social insensitivity, using the comparison of influenza to try to argue that negative stereotyping is inappropriate. It is a lose-lose situation in that sense.

  • R

    Robert MartensFeb 23, 2020 at 7:18 am

    Maybe you should have just written an article “informing about what is being done to combat the virus” Instead of this no meat article that says little. It seems to be defending the scare tactics of the press. Minus the deaths in one part of China the count is 15 worldwide. Less than one bus accident. Let’s keep things in perspective. BTW Influenza in the US killed in Feb. 2018 was killing 4000 Americans each week. Hmm.