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Panics Are Irrational … And This One Is No Different

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Panics Are Irrational … And This One Is No Different

Panics Are Irrational … And This One Is No Different
March 25
13:23 2020

The medical and media mantra is “do not panic.”  That does not stop them from promoting panic.  And it is getting crazy in the neighborhoods.  I have witnessed a few responses to panic that make no sense whatsoever.  Some of it is even funny.

Public Response

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The drumbeat of scary news stories has divided the country into two camps – those who are terrified by the Coronavirus and those who are not – the latter being the most interesting.

The media accentuates the terrified.  It is nothing but one scary story after another.  Everything is getting worse.  The reporters use words like “dire,” “tragic” and “severe.”  They highlight and magnify every negative aspect of the outbreak.  It is no wonder you have so many living in fear.  To assuage the fear they engender, they offer up psychologists, psychiatrists and consultants to advise people how to handle their fears and anxieties.

I find the other half the most interesting – those who avoid living in fear.  Those who seem to believe that the response to the Coronavirus is a huge and unfortunate over reaction – sort of a group mentality panic.

I see that when out and about – at the gas station, the grocery store, the pharmacy.  Most of the people that I have encountered scoff at all the media reports and Draconian advice.  We certainly see that on the beaches of Florida where thousands of young people – and even some old folks – gather to enjoy the sun, sand and water.

They call the reaction “ridiculous.”  I do not endorse their cavalier attitude – even though I tend to lean in that direction.  But it should be noted that not everyone is living in fear as the news reports suggest. There is a goodly portion of the public who thinks we have gone too far.  Here are a few of my favorite sillinesses.

The Grocery Store

I have made several visits to local Publix grocery store – more than normal to look for items that once were in abundance on the shelves – toilet paper, eggs and fresh meat being the most absent.  I also saw some of the absurdities firsthand.

There are more people using the swipes to sterilize the shopping cart handles – but that has been the practice of many in the past.  It is not new. I also notice that employees were constantly wiping down the carts and the counter tops.  That was new.  That seems reasonable even if that is not your habit.

Then I arrived at the vegetable department.  Shoppers were doing what that always do with the open bin fruits and vegetables.  It was an orgy of touching – not each other, but the exposed food.  It is common for folks to pick up an apple, examine it and toss it back in the bin.  All those scary reports – and all that hyper-sanitation at the front end of the supermarket seemed to have no impact on those buying vegetables.  Though not as prevalent, I saw a lot of that going on with can goods, bakery items and cleaning supplies.

The store was crowded, but I did not see ANY social distancing – not even in the checkout lines.  The people at the checkout counter were not wearing gloves and obviously handled thousands of items touched by other human hands.  Oddly, I found that reassuring – reflective of my trust in the common sense of the average American.

The Pharmacy

The personnel at the checkout counter at my local Walgreens were now wearing rubber gloves.  That was nothing more than a surrender to symbolism.  They do no good at all since that nasty Coronavirus can get on the glove and be transferred to the clerk or the next person in line.

The only time rubber gloves serve their purpose is if you change them after each contact.  If you notice, your doctor or nurse may put on gloves to examine you, but they toss them away and get a new pair for the next patient.

The Mask

I have gotten a lot of advice about the wearing masks from the media.  The only problem is that it’s contradictory.  Intuitively, we believed that masks were protection from getting a virus.  After all, we have seen all those folks in Asia who don masks in every flu season.

The most respected medical authorities now tell us that we should NOT wear masks to protect us – but only if we are sick.  Apparently, masks are more effective in keeping those virus-bearing droplets we exhaust when we sneeze from infecting the air or things upon which they land than keeping them away from other people.  Those “painters’ masks” are even more useless as a preventative.

With this logic every patient in a hospital with a communicable disease should be masked. In my experience, however, only the doctors and nurses are likely to wear them – and, of course, they should because on their intense contact with sick people.

Since there is a shortage of masks in our medical facilities, it would seem to be a good public service not to wear them if you are not sick.

Doctor, heal thy self

A newer controversy has arisen.  According to the media, everyone who comes in contact with a Coronavirus infected person should self-quarantine.  They went so far as to suggest that for doctors.  If they get the bug, they could spread it.

Ponder that for a second.  Okay, you see the problem.  Doctors and nurses are ALWAYS in the company of sick people.  If they ran off every time they were just in the presence of a person with a disease – in this case – the Coronavirus – there would be no doctors and nurses in the hospitals, clinics or even their own offices.

If there are any hotspots for diseases it is in hospitals and clinics.  That is where sick people assemble even in these days of home incarceration or social distancing.  One of the common concerns is GETTING a disease in a hospital.  I can name several elderly people who contracted an infection in the hospital and died – including family members.


For some time – long before Coronavirus – it has been recommended that you sneeze into your sleeve near your elbow rather than into your hand.  As a protective measure they now suggest you do an elbow bump instead of shaking hands.  You see the problem?

When asked on a news program if sneezing at your elbow and then doing the bump could pass the virus, the tele-medic said, “yes, I think the only solution is a butt bump.”  Or we can take up saluting, like they do in the military.

Get Out of Jail Free

I also got to thinking about the reports that they are not arresting non-violent criminals – and even leaving them out of prison.  I always thought prison was a type of quarantine.  Now we will have more criminals running around the streets – and each of them another potential Coronavirus carrier.

In General

Looking at all this – and a lot of other things I hear from the media (including the tele-medics) –there seems to be more confusion than clarity in our daily news reports.  If we the people seem a bit confused – and even a little skeptical – maybe it is from taking in too much news.  As is often the case, common sense is the best source of action.

So, there ‘tis.


About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Yankee Doodle Shamrock
    Yankee Doodle Shamrock March 26, 20:26

    Covid-19 is a very contagious virus. Its molecules spread via droplets and can last on hard surfaces for some time. People can spread the virus unknowingly.

    The best thing everyone can do is to stay home and only go out if absolutely necessary. I am writing from Ireland and can see what is happening here in Europe. Virus effects here are devastating. Doctors having to choose who will live and who will die.

    USA, please stay alert. Stay home, stay safe, wash your hands. This virus can only enter your body via eyes, nose and mouth.

    I am not sure how much European news comes through to the USA. You can visit some of the European news sites, BBC for the UK, RTE for Ireland, France 24 for France. Irish Times for newspaper. Please do not underestimate this virus !!

    Reply to this comment

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