Coronavirus is all anyone can think about, and for good reason. It’s been declared a pandemic, multiple U.S. cities are enforcing shut-ins and curfews, and the disease is forcing lives to a stand-still.

So, what does this mean, for us?

Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch told The Atlantic last week. “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.” Yikes. But he also said this: even though he predicts some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, “it’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic.”

The California Department of Public Health agrees. In a statement yesterday it said, “While COVID-19 has a high transmission rate, it has a low mortality rate. The international data we have, of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, approximately 80 percent do not exhibit symptoms that would require hospitalization.”

In other words, there’s no need to panic. It helps to look at coronavirus in the context of other illnesses to get some perspective. The coronavirus currently has a death rate of 2 percent worldwide, far below the 9 percent to 12 percent death rate of the 2002 SARS; though higher than the common flu in the U.S.

It’s still unclear exactly how contagious the virus is, but the CDC estimates symptoms occur 2-14 days after exposure. It’s mainly spread through the respiratory system (think: breathing or coughing on someone). Signs of the virus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Like with many other illnesses, older adults and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk as are smokers.

Psychological Implications Of Coronavirus

If you chat with five different friends, you’ll see a range of responses—some are already ordering face masks and stocking up on water, others thinking maybe they won’t got to Italy this summer, and still others haven’t heard anything about the virus.

Despite the information we do hear, part of the trouble is humans are not great at assessing risk. According to Paul Slovic, Ph.D., who researches risk and decision making at the University of Oregon, how risk is conveyed determines how it’s interpreted. And, people use their emotions, not logical analysis to evaluate risks.

“Catastrophizing is an example of an unhealthy thinking pattern which may make contamination seem more likely than it actually is,” says Dr. Julie Kolzet, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in New York City.

To feel less anxious, Dr. Kolzet suggests getting news from reliable sources and thinking about the facts. “Ask yourself, what’s the evidence for this and the evidence against it.” Another tactic is to ask yourself what the cost is of believing the worst-case scenario.

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Mental Health Apps for Coronavirus Anxiety

Did you know that apps can be a great way to relieve anxiety and manage your mental health?

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How To Minimize Coronavirus Risk (According To The CDC)

  1. Wash your hands. Using soap and water, lather up for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. This is especially important after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  2. Cover your cough or sneeze. Use a tissue that you can throw away. And, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth since the virus is transmitted through the respiratory system.
  3. Stay home as much as possible. Chances are you don’t have the virus, but officials advise staying home. California has even put a shelter in place motion in effect. And, if you suspect you may have coronavirus, call your healthcare provider. Here’s more about how to get tested for coronavirus.
  4. Keep surfaces clean. Use a disinfecting cleaning spray or wipes on high-touch surfaces like light switches, doorknobs, your phone, and remote controls.
  5. Stay away from sick people. One thing we know about the virus is that it is very contagious.

Helpful Links For Travel Plans, Work & More

The CDC also recommends that “businesses explore strategies that would decrease the amount of exposure that people have with one another, for example, telecommuting and staggered shifts. Those who travel frequently for business should also cancel any nonessential travel. 

For updates on coronavirus, check the CDC website. Want to know how coronavirus could affect chronic conditions, read this.


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Last Updated: Feb 4, 2021