Irresponsible Rhetoric & March Madness

Nation facing the domino effect of the coronavirus outbreak
Virus Outbreak Big 12 College Basketball
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Sports, for many of us, have been described as a matter of life and death, but seemingly overnight Wednesday, that point of view was put into perspective when the NBA announced a player had contracted COVID-19 and suspended the remainder of its season. Major League Baseball delayed the start of the 2020 season the next morning. By that afternoon, the NCAA suspended the remainder of winter and spring sports.

For two and a half months, the world has watched as a novel coronavirus emerged from China and spread around the globe. Governments have initiated varied responses to the disease, some rational and some not so much.

The situation in the United States is growing more concerning daily. Stock markets are volatile. On Feb. 12, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at an all-time high of 29,551.42. It was as low as 21,535.52 a month later on worry about the spreading pandemic.

That’s a lot of money lost in 30 days, and that’s just reflective of the 30 biggest companies in the country.

What’s really concerning is the health and economic domino effect the country is potentially facing.

People are afraid of contracting and spreading the disease.

We already know New Orleans – and several other metropolitan areas – will feel impacts from the disease, both in the growing number of cases and economic fallout as a result of event cancellations and alterations.

The local tourism and service industries will be hit by the NCAA’s decision to not play the Women’s Final Four. But the cancellation of big events is just the tip of the ice burg. News and images of the impact the coronavirus is having on Italy have Americans concerned for what’s to come.

The Italian government has effectively brought society to a halt. People are isolated to prevent spread. Other than grocers and pharmacies, stores and attractions are closed. Travel is limited. Commerce has come to a near halt.

Some experts believe as much as half of the American population could contract the disease. If the United States has to take similar measures to Italy, the economic fallout could be crippling.

Already, American universities are telling students not to come back to campus this semester. School systems across the country are following suit, with many closing for the next two weeks. That means parents have to scramble to ensure their children have care while balancing their work responsibilities. For hourly workers, that could be devastating. U.S. companies are beginning to lay off workers to offset real and potential losses, which will have a further impact on the economic recovery.

What’s most alarming at this point, however, is the effect the disease is having on the Italian hospitals and health care workers. The number of sick are overwhelming hospitals and equipment, and medical professionals are getting sick, too, limiting the number of patients who can be treated, and, possibly, contributing to further infection. Worse, physicians are having to make the terrible decision of treating those with the best chance of survival and leaving those with lower chances with limited or without medical treatment.

When the virus first hit our shores, I was ambivalent about cancelling events and limiting audiences. I thought people would take proper precaution. If someone was infected, surely, they wouldn’t put others at risk. But with a two-week incubation period before symptoms appear, there is no way of knowing who has it and who doesn’t.

I’m ambivalent no more.

If hospitals here are overwhelmed, the likelihood is more people will catch and transmit the virus, jut making the situation exponentially worse.

It’s a dangerous predicament, one that will continue to affect our health and wellfare. All prudent steps should be taken to limit exposure and ensure each and every one of us has the best protection against the coronavirus impacting our health and our economy. For many, including our most vulnerable, it really is a matter of life or death.

At this point, we all need to do what is in the greater good to control and prevent this disease. Once we do, normality will return and life as we know it will continue.

Until then, listen to proper health officials, and make sure to wash your hands.



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