Stop acting stupid over coronavirus


So now what?

Thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19) the world seems to have come to a complete stop, except at the supermarkets where everyone is crowding together to do exactly what the experts tell us not to do.

Think about it. Every sporting event, the Houston Rodeo, and numerous public gatherings have been canceled or postponed. Schools have extended spring break another week out of an abundance of precaution. Many churches are holding services online only. The only solid advice we’ve been given from health experts is to wash our hands and stay away from crowds.

So, everyone rushes to the store and buys up all the toilet paper. Rather than avoiding crowds, everyone is crowded into the store together, handling food, cleaning supplies and the precious TP.

In addition to this freakish obsession with toilet paper, there is one thing I don’t understand about the prevention tips provided by health professionals. They say not to touch your face, but in their next breath, they say to cover your cough. That’s kind of hard to do without touching your face.

I’m not trying to make light of the whole coronavirus pandemic (OK, maybe I am just a little), but at some point you’ve got to find the humor amid the tragedy.

With everyone calling for common sense to prevail, we Americans have been behaving uncommonly senseless. Our grocery stores are wiped out of toilet paper. What on earth does that have to do with coronavirus? Once that frenzy started, people began rushing into grocery stores and stocking up on cleaning supplies. That I can understand, but what happened next is nothing short of mass hysteria. Shelves are being emptied of foods and other goods though as if a hurricane were coming.

All of this is despite the fact that every major grocery store chain has assured us there is no shortage of anything and their shelves will be well-stocked for weeks or months. Last Friday my wife placed her grocery order online at Kroger like she normally does on a payday. Typically she picks it up on her way home from work. They told her the earliest available pick-up time was Saturday at 7 p.m. I can appreciate the fact that people are using that service to make sure they avoid the crowds in the store, but this is insane.

We’re looking at the complete shutdown of sporting events for weeks or months. Everything from high schools to the pros are looking at shortened or canceled seasons. Many other events are getting shut down. I can understand and appreciate these precautions, but like most people, I find them frustrating. For one thing, it’s going to be hard to fill our sports pages for the next few weeks, but we’ll do our best. We are also doing what we can to keep our readers informed with the latest information about this pandemic.

Now, before you jump on the bandwagon and accuse us of being part of any media conspiracy to spread fear and panic, let me address this very subject. First of all, we are trying to be responsible and informative with trustworthy and accurate information. Never once have we ever advised anyone to rush to the store in a panic. In no way have we ever exploited the crisis. Our efforts are entirely focused on providing our readers with fair, accurate and up-to-date information. If that equates to a mass hysteria conspiracy in your book, then we’re guilty as charged.

But let me tell you from more than 30 years of professional experience in this field, “the media” or “mainstream media” are far too competitive to be in cahoots with one another. And if you believe that “the media” and any faction of government can conspire together, you probably deserve to be standing in a crowded grocery store rummaging through empty shelves and cussing ESPN for canceling your favorite sports programs. Government and “the media” simply do not trust each other, especially at the federal level.

It’s just speculation on my part, but I think one of the reasons people feel that the media is fostering mass panic over the coronavirus crisis is because they see so much of the same thing repeated over and over in their social media feeds, and then again in their newspapers and on television. I submit that anyone who has shared any story or meme related to coronavirus is just as guilty of being in a conspiracy to incite panic. Once you’ve shared something, you’ve become a disseminator of information and have acted essentially in the same role as any professional journalist. So watch where you point your fingers.

In the meantime, as we wait for this crisis to subside, let’s look at how we can help one another and get along. Let’s stop buying toilet paper and start sharing soap and hand sanitizer. Let’s get outside more in the fresh air and sunlight where viruses have a hard time thriving. On Saturday my son Colton and I went for a 10-mile hike at Brazos Bend State Park. It was pleasant and not crowded on the trails.

Of all the information out there about the virus, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to wash your hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid physical contact with others, and stay away from large groups. If you feel sick or fear you might have been exposed to someone with coronavirus, please stay home and self-quarantine. Your employer, co-workers, friends and acquaintances will understand and thank you.

This too shall pass, and we can get through it with a healthy dose of common sense and preventive measures. Trust me, rushing to the store to buy toilet paper will not help you. If it does, then you’ve probably got a problem much greater than coronavirus.


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