Let’s discuss everyone’s favorite microbe: the coronavirus, more affectionately known as COVID-19. While it’s necessary to be cautious and practice good hygiene, the mass hysteria fueled by the media does more harm than good. Widespread fear and suspicion have replaced common sense and compassion when we need it most, and it sends the wrong message to our youth. It teaches them that when faced with a threat, we should abandon all reason and act only in self interest. Some of these behaviors as a response perpetuate disastrous attitudes of prejudice and distrust.

Yes the viral outbreak began in Wuhan, China. This does not mean that every Chinese person has coronavirus or that every Asian person is Chinese. I’ve read about how incidences of racism towards Asians escalate to the point of physical violence all around the world. In my own community, some Chinese restaurants and supermarkets have been struggling due to lack of business. Even in my medical school class, racist jokes have been made even after some classmates expressed how uneasy the jokes made them feel. I hope people focus on the facts and treat others with empathy rather than acting on a mindless panic during this challenging time.

Some Facts:

COVID-19 spreads via respiratory droplets between people who are within close contact (6 ft).
– The elderly, immunosuppressed, pregnant, and those with chronic conditions are at higher risk and should take precautions to stay home to avoid contact with sick individuals.
COVID-19 can infect people of any race and ethnicity.
– A person released from quarantine is not at risk to infect others.
– Symptoms will show between 2-14 days.
Most people who get sick from COVID-19 will recover.
– There is no evidence showing pets can transmit it.
– There’s currently no vaccine, so the best method to avoid illness is prevention:
Wash your hands often and properly for 20 seconds after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing and before preparing food and eating.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth and avoid touching surfaces such as elevator buttons, door knobs, etc as much as possible in public places.
If you’re showing symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
– Fever
– Cough
– Shortness of breath
– Persistent chest pain or pressure
If you are sick:
– Stay home unless leaving to receive medical care.
– Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing.
– Wear a mask to prevent spreading it to others.
If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask). Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

For more facts, check out:


Temper fear with reason, panic with patience, and uncertainty with education. – Dr. Abdu Sharkawy

One thought on “Clean Hands, Clear Minds

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