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Beefs and Beliefs
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Getting past the panic of COVID-19

We're learning more about the disease that may be a harsh virus, but not a world-ending event

The first time I saw fear-driven buying and hoarding like we’re seeing today was before an ice storm that was forecast to end all life in Oklahoma.

That’s sarcasm, but it was forecast to be a severe ice storm with possible long-term power outages. I stopped by a Walmart store in Mustang, Oklahoma, to pick up one or two items while running another errand and found the shelves nearly empty of nearly everything. Incidentally, the ice storm did not materialize.

I was shocked at this level of panic because I always keep extras of most everything vital, including foodstuffs, toilet paper and coffee, and I couldn’t imagine why people were buying so much. Of course, it was fear of the unknown, then as it is now.

And this time the fear is not abating and people are glued to their televisions and the social media platforms on their smartphones – both sources of their fear. I guess most people can’t get enough high from this low.

As for me, I’m always more interested in truth than fiction. What we’re seeing as this pandemic progresses is all the original estimates of death and extreme morbidity from COVID-19 is not nearly as bad as we were told by it would be. In fact, the earliest estimates of 3.4% mortality from the World Health Organization (WHO) should make you as suspicious of this United Nations sub-entity as I am. When I heard those numbers in the middle of winter and saw people quoting them, I told those near me these likely were not credible. I was correct, as now many experts are steadily downgrading their mortality predictions.

One of the latest and most interesting tidbits was an article in the New England Journal of Medicine March 26, 2020, from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, hailed by the mainstream media as the number one expert on infectious disease in the United States. Fauci is director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). In that article he cited current mortality statistics from across the world and he wrote: “This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

To summarize, the top expert in the US says COVID-19 is similar to a winter with a bad outbreak of influenza.

So why are governments all over the world shutting down everything and destroying businesses and the larger economy? Let’s look at the actual dangers from that.

Studies going back to the mid 1970s show increases in unemployment actually kills many thousands of people through a variety of means, such as heart attack, increased alcoholism and depression. In fact, economist Toby Rogers said a meta-study in 2011 shows a 1% increase in unemployment increases the mortality rate by 63%, or about 58,000 deaths in the US. That’s shocking, but even if the many studies reviewed for this meta-study were all flawed, a much smaller percentage still seems a high cost to pay.

You can read his article on this topic on these dangers on the Children’s Health Defense organization website. It’s called Will “Deaths of Despair” Outpace Deaths From Coronavirus?

There are many unanswered questions. Is it more contagious than the normal flu virus? Is the probability of death among people over 50 or 60 actually much higher? Is the incubation period longer than for most viruses? By the so-called social distancing practices and quarantines, are we avoiding herd immunity and setting ourselves up for another outbreak?

I don’t know the answers, do you? Moreover, do the experts you’re listening to?

There are many resources you can use to track COVID-19 data. Here are four:

The Novel Coronavirus Information Center

The Worldometer COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic page

The Lancet article on COVID-19 from March 30

WHO COVID-19 page

As I watch this event and try to ignore all the fearmongers, I am firmly of the belief I still don’t want to catch this particular strain of coronavirus, nor another, nor a flu strain. I’m being more cautious and practicing increased biosecurity because it makes sense. So don’t misunderstand my stance.

My point is that today we have more information at our fingertips through smartphones and the internet than ever before. We should use it and think for ourselves. Stop the fear. Stop believing whatever you see on the television or social media. Stop assuming one single story represents a whole event. Use your rational brain. Check it out.

Above all, I recommend you adopt my mantra: Always question everything all the time. You won’t get the simple answer you may want, but you’ll learn much more and fear will slip down your list of motivators.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Beef Producer or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Farm Life
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