How Are So Many People Infectious Disease Experts?

Everyone in the world is talking about the coronavirus, events of every size and kind are canceling left and right, and my Facebook feed is filled with prognostications from friends who have become infectious diseases experts literally overnight.

They're spouting — if not outright spewing — flu statistics and how more people die from the regular flu, car accidents, the opioid crisis, and cow tipping accidents than have ever died from coronavirus.

They're arguing with actual public health experts, blaming the media, and sharing stories of people hoarding mountains of toilet paper and bottled water, like Smaug from The Hobbit.

(Helpful hint: Coronavirus is not a blizzard or a hurricane. It will not stop your tap water from flowing.)

And my Facebook feed — my entire life, actually — is filled with people making the same damn jokes about Corona-beer-virus and how they came down with a case of Corona beer and if someone got the coronavirus they'd shove a lime wedge in their nose and ha ha ha, aren't we all hilarious?

(Helpful hint: No.)

Today, as I write this, the entire sporting world has collapsed: The NCAA has canceled their entire national tournament; the NBA and NHL canceled the rest of their season; and Major League Baseball canceled Spring Training and pushed Opening Day out by two weeks.

Even the XFL has canceled the remainder of its season, but honestly, everyone stopped paying attention to them after the first week.

Colleges and universities around the country have canceled in-person classes and moved them online.

Supposedly, the students at the University of Dayton were so upset, over 1,000 of them actually rioted, and police had to fire pepper balls into the crowd to disperse it.

But then everyone remembered it was the University of Dayton and things started to make more sense.

"There were some social media reports and rumors that this was a protest against our coronavirus measures — those reports are inaccurate. Indications are that the students wanted one last large gathering before spring break and the size and behavior of the crowd required police to take action," University officials said in a statement, as reporters pretended to look surprised.

"Yep, that sounds about right," said University of Dayton parents.

Meanwhile in Redding, California, a charismatic mega-church was forced to cancel its faith healing missions trips to area hospitals over contamination fears. Instead, Bethel Church leaders told their faith healers to avoid going to public places and wash their hands regularly to avoid getting sick.

I'll let you all make your own jokes. Some of these people handle venomous snakes and I'm not about to get on their bad side.

In Landerneau, France, 3,500 French cosplayers dressed as Smurfs — the little cartoon blue creatures — in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for largest number of people dressed as Smurfs. The event happened a day before the French government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

Landerneau's mayor, Patrick Leclerc, defended the decision. "We must not stop living. It was the chance to say that we are alive," he told Agence France-Presse.

Ironically, several Smurfs died during the event, because the blue body paint kept others from noticing they had stopped breathing.

(Helpful hint: That's not true, I made that up.)

Now that I've made my little jokes, let me just say this as a former crisis communications director for the Indiana State Department of Health: Please take this seriously. You've no doubt heard from all your friends who have said this is not a big deal and we're all just overreacting and blah blah blah.

They're going online to share their "expert" opinion, which is most likely wrong. And also dumb.

Instead, take these precautions.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow, and don't shake hands, because your friends are disgusting snotbags who sneezed into their hands and wiped them on their pants two minutes before you saw them.

Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and hot water. Don't touch your face, because your friends are leprous savages who barely remember to dash their hands under cold water after they pee.

Avoid going out into groups; I don't care if you "really need to." One person can ruin it for everyone. The NBA canceled the rest of their season because Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. After he put his fingers on every reporter's microphone during a press conference.

One dad in Missouri was supposed to be under quarantine while awaiting his daughter's test results. Instead, he took his other daughter to a father-daughter dance. In New Hampshire, a healthcare worker who was supposed to be quarantined while awaiting his results, instead went to a doctor-student mixer at Dartmouth College.

So the reason everyone should be concerned about the coronavirus is not that the media and government officials are blowing it out of proportion. It's that a lot of idiots can't do what they're told when people's lives and livelihoods are actually at stake.

Maybe you're not at risk of dying, but people you come into contact with are — elderly parents, infants, people with compromised immune systems. They're more likely to die, and the last thing they need is for you to pass it to them.

So, spare us your dubious expertise and your misinformed opinions. Stay at home, wash your hands, and stick to constitutional law, which you were experts at last month.

Photo credit: Marianna OLE (Pexels, Creative Commons 0)

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