Social Responsibility : Stopping the Spread of the Coronvirus
March 23, 2020 | T. Franklin Murphy
Now is the time to expand our social consciousness. We need to limit the spread of COVID-19
The number of Coronavirus cases are expanding exponentially. With increased access to testing and a fiercely contagious illness, the numbers are beginning to show the deadly potential of this virus. Over the next couple weeks, the United States will see an alarming number of deaths. Perhaps, then the fear of contracting the disease will motivate responsible behavior. The problem is consequences of contributing behavior goes unnoticed. We see the behavior. We can contract, transmute, and even kill.
Over the weekend, amidst the dire reports of deaths, beaches were packed. A young reveler, barefoot and in swim trunks, responded to a news reporter’s questions, “I’m not going to let this get in the way of having a good time.” In his physical prime, he has little to fear. One can argue, he made a sound risk assessment of probabilities. He most likely won’t contract the disease; and even if he does, he most likely won’t suffer serious illness. We can use scare tactics, citing flimsy evidence, but these arguments fall flat. The numbers clearly show that casualties primarily afflict vulnerable populations. The evaluations, however, fail to consider the social impact, never moving beyond the narcissistic assessment that, “I’m safe; and I can recover.”
Let’s back up the camera, examining from a wider angle. Last weekend, tens of thousands of people flocked to the beaches, celebrating spring break. Based on the current numbers, we can logically assume that many attendees carry the Coronavirus. Based on current understanding of the contagious nature of this virus, the crowded conditions of the beaches, and the typical interactions of young people, we can assume, the virus spread. New infected young people will return back home and to their communities. They may be asymptomatic or, perhaps, only mildly sick. But they now carrier the virus.
If tracing transmission were easy, we could track some upcoming coronavirus deaths back to the irresponsible beach parties. With exponential transmission, and the large percentage of asymptomatic carriers, the irresponsible revelers will kill.
Of the 634 passengers of the Diamond Princess that tested positive for COVID-19, Japanese researchers found that 17.9% of these passengers were asymptomatic (Mizumoto et al. 2020). Dutch researchers estimate that “the proportion of pre-symptomatic transmission was 48% for Singapore and 62% for Tianjin, China” (Ganyani, et al. 2020).
We need to stop underestimating this outbreak. Maybe watching the Italian military transport vehicles carrying corpses from local hospitals will shock us into action. How many families will suffer? How many premature deaths before awakening social consciousness? Thankfully many people get it. Many are working to prevent the spread by protecting themselves, their families and limiting exposure to the community. The happy-go-lucky kid that wasn’t going to let “this” get in the way of a good time maybe needs to better understand what “this” is. We can contribute to the solution or add to the problem. Practice social-distancing, limit going out, wash your hands, and self-quarantine if you show symptoms. Let’s save lives by mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
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Kenji Mizumoto, Katsushi Kagaya, Alexander Zarebski, Gerardo Chowell (2020) Estimating the asymptomatic proportion of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, Yokohama, Japan. Eurosurveillanc. March 12, 2020.
Tapiwa Ganyani, Cecile Kremer, Dongxuan Chen, Andrea Torneri, Christel Faes, Jacco Wallinga, Niel Hens (2020) Estimating the generation interval for COVID-19 based on symptom onset data