It’s easy for us to panic when our TVs and newspapers are filled with hysteria surrounding coronavirus.
There is no doubt, this is a disease that we must take seriously, but our worries have been stoked by the news media and have resulted in a panic that is gripping America.
It’s important to remember that coronavirus is not nearly as fatal as Ebola, SARS, or H1N1, which didn’t produce a similar overreaction that we’re seeing now.
And still, mayors and governors are placing authoritarian limits on our country — closing restaurants and bars, halting political gatherings, and suspending religious services.
Most of these state and local officials are making these life-altering decisions that limit our civil liberties without a full picture.
Fear, not hard science, is leading our government’s response.
Currently, the best coronavirus data we can study is from the Diamond Princess, a case in which every individual on the ship was tested.
Of the 697 passengers who tested positive, sadly, seven died.
That makes for about a one percent death rate on the Diamond Princess, a ship where the average age of all passengers was 58 years old and 33% were 70 years or older.
We should all make a conscious effort to avoid passing the disease onto others, especially our elderly and medically compromised population.
If we take the statistics from the Diamond Princess and project them onto the general public, the total death rate would be just a fraction of a percent and would almost exclusively affect high-risk populations like the sick and elderly.
When you take a look at the numbers instead of just the headlines flashing across the TV screen, the average American faces a much lower risk than we might have previously assumed.
If this teaches us anything, it’s that we are making major policy decisions that spend billions, if not trillions, of taxpayer dollars — based on fear alone.
If cable news told stories with these facts in mind, would we still be fighting each other over toilet paper?
We need to prioritize elderly and sick populations and focus our resources on the most vulnerable.
Right now, we need to reduce fear among the American public. We need to look at ways to incentivize healthy people to get back to work — sending $1,000 checks to each and every American won’t do that.
If there’s one thing we learned from the sluggish Barack Obama economy, it’s that incentivizing people not to work creates economic downturn.
Big business bailouts also won’t work, the workers who need our help are at the local mom and pop shops.
It’s the responsibility of government officials to promote calm and examine the situation strategically, using facts, not hyperbole.
We can’t let fear and panic push our nation over the brink. President Donald Trump has rightfully been measured in his approach and it’s time we, as a Congress, make policy decisions that will instill confidence in the American people and get our economy back up and running.
Ken Buck represents Colorado’s 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. From Windsor, Buck previously served as the District Attorney for Weld County. He was first elected to Congress in 2014.