When I started in emergency nursing in late 2008, we were still asking the screening questions for the 2002-2004 SARS (fun fact, also Coronavirus) "outbreak." Sierra Leone was removed as the last active country for the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in March of 2016 and yet most EHRs still require us to ask the 30 day international travel question screening for this disease to this day.
We are currently in the middle of the latest (and generally annual) Media fear-mongering campaigns regarding the Coronavirus (strain COVID-19) - one of several viruses typically responsible for "the common cold." In fact, tens of thousands test positive for Coronavirus every year.
"You can always tell when we're in a scarcity culture, because the two headlines that drive everything from the news to our conversations at dinner are what are we supposed to be afraid of and who's fault is it."- Brené Brown
These annual media outlet fundraisers are nothing more than profiteering, creating financial devastation across a wide variety of industries: travel, tourism, transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, commerce, finance, government, etc.
This particularly affects the already overburdened healthcare infrastructure, costing millions if not billions of dollars in materials and supplies, personnel, training, policy and procedure revisions, and the over-lasting effect as already mentioned in EHR screening adaptations.
Additionally, manufactured terror subjects front-line healthcare facilities (such as emergency and urgent care departments) to floods of otherwise well patients fearing infection with the dreaded virus (treatment by the way, is symptomatic - i.e. we treat the symptoms, there is no viral cure, it will have to run it's course).
In fact, due to the great amount of drummed up fear and panic involved, many policies and procedures run awry, with the result of being much more complicated and costly than actually required - see the CDC's "Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings." Negative pressure, contact precautions, and full respirators are being used for a typical respiratory droplet-borne virus (6-foot transmission, requiring a simple mask and eye protection). In fact, the only reason contact precautions were used during the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak was that infectious bodily fluids were involved.
According to a physician from Harvard Medical School,
Currently, there’s no evidence that COVID-19, the new coronavirus, can be transmitted from soft surfaces like fabric or carpet to humans. It’s possible that the virus could be on frequently-touched surfaces, such as a doorknob, although early information suggests viral particles would be likely to survive for just a few hours, according to the WHO. This also assumes that someone who is sick with the virus has touched a surface after sneezing or coughing into their hand or rubbing their eye. That’s why personal preventive steps like frequently washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wiping down often-touched surfaces with disinfectants or a household cleaning spray, are a good idea.
Be reminded that the vast majority of deaths associated with COVID-19 are persons over the age of 50 and with numerous co-morbidities.
This is the same group who are likely to suffer catastrophic health impact from ANY illness.
Let's review some of the other media viral panics of the last three decades and the associated deaths:
2003 Monkey Pox (0)
2009-2010 Swine Flu H1N1 (12,469)
2013-2016 Ebola (>11,300)
2015 MERS (38)
2015-2016 Zika Virus (~53)
2015 Influenza A H1N1 (2035)
2019-Present Coronavirus COVID-19 (3204 as of 03/04)
Let's also remind ourselves of the annual deaths from general influenza (another common upper respiratory virus):
In total, the CDC estimates that up to 42.9 million people got sick during the 2018-2019 flu season, 647,000 people were hospitalized and 61,200 died. That's fairly on par with a typical season, and well below the CDC's 2017-2018 estimates of 48.8 million illnesses, 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths.
"It's Time to Nut-Up or Shut-Up"
What am I recommending? TURN OFF YOUR NEWS CHANNEL - it's a bunch of nonsense that's been dominated for the last year with Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, the Royal Family, and the Coronavirus. Media is ratings-driven, so STOP feeding in. STOP looking for something else to be afraid of and just live life with common sense and sensible everyday precautions. How do you beat the Zombie Apocalypse . . . just WASH YOUR HANDS!