To the editor:
I respectfully disagree with Ronald Hersh's assessment of the coronavirus response ("Fear is fueling coronavirus reaction," letter March 14.) Does media fear-mongering exist? Of course. Is this new, uncertain situation triggering some deep fear in us each? Of course.
But the facts are leading many of us in our response.
Unlike seasonal flu, COVID-19 has the easy ability to overwhelm our current health care systems. We simply do not have the hospital beds or respirators to accommodate an exponential spike in patients. Our medical professionals tells us that no hospital in the United States does. Epidemiologists tell us that social distancing measures have the ability to slow the rate of spread so that hospitals are not overwhelmed and doctors can prevent the types of unnecessary deaths that are occurring in Italy. Because COVID-19 can be spread by people who don't even know that they have been infected, going about business as usual is a recipe for exponential growth and for hospitals being taxed beyond capacity.
When I see empty supermarket shelves, I see people making a rational choice to change their behavior. I see people taking care to protect the health of a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a neighbor who might be at high risk for COVID-19 complications. I see many people doing that without fear. I find it commendable.