COVID-19: Dealing with Fear in Times of Uncertainty

Mar 15, 2020

It’s a crazy story, and there are very different ways to tell it.

Approximately 20 in every 100 people that contract the coronavirus need to be hospitalized. And out of those 20, it is likely that four or five will need intensive care. And out of those four or five, it is probable that one will die (research).

That’s the first way to look at it.

It’s also true that roughly 16 out of every 20 people that are infected with the virus are nearly guaranteed to get back to health within a few weeks of contracting the disease without either leaving the comfort of their home or taking any medication.

It’s the same story, told two different ways. One evokes fear, the other one hope (or dare I say—safety).

Yes, people are dying. Yes, the disease is spreading at vertiginous speeds. Yes, our medical staff is overworked and operating with limited resources.

But, if there 81,000 people have been affected by the Coronavirus in China alone, let’s also remember that 67,000 of those people have fully recovered to date.

It’s scary because it’s unexpected. It’s scary because it’s fast. It’s scary because it’s inevitable.

However, in the midst of every chaos, there is beauty, calm and growth.

This experience has reminded us all that we are human and there are chances that it will bring us all closer together—if it hasn’t already. When this is all said and done, we’ll have learned valuable lessons. Our economy and the way we work will have changed. And, hopefully, we’ll be a little more prepared the next time nature comes swinging at us.

The dangerous thing with being collectively thrown into the unknown is that people will seek certainty in whichever ways they can. One of those ways is to construct a rationale around the events that are not understood.

Unfortunately, today everyone is able to share their version of the facts with the push of a button. The accumulation of such narratives information ends up doing more harm than good. As people seek support and reassurance, all they can find is clutter and freight.

Remember that many people whose articles you read online make a living from knowing.

With Coronavirus, nobody really knows. The virus is too novel for anyone to fully understand its origins, implications, and long-term risks. And when no one knows, it’s easy for someone to come forth and speak as if they knew—without being called on.

When in doubt, stick to what you know. And if you have a choice between two versions of the same story, always choose the one that empowers you.

To better understand what’s happening and what to expect in the coming months, check out this article.

For up-to-date numbers on cases, recoveries and deaths by country, check out this interactive map put together by Johns Hopkins.