To The Editor,

This is a time for calm and clear-headed reason – a time when many appear to have lost their cool. Corona virus is top of mind. Gloom and doom. Bad news. A pronounced degree of alarmism.

The focus of most media coverage has heightened fear and anxiety. Public health officials stress how bad it might become. They report daily on how many more cases there have been, how many more might be detected, and how many deaths might be coming. The spread of the virus may seem more newsworthy than articles that stress precautionary measures the public should take, or those that provide perspective

A prime example is a Washington Post on-line computer model that shows how quickly the virus could spread in a hypothetical community of 200 people. The “expert” who wrote the article and developed the model based it on the assumption that every single person who contacted someone infected by the virus would become infected. That totally ignores that many people who contact an infected person will not contract the disease. The rate of infection is only a small percentage of the population. Moreover, the vast majority of people who do become infected get better and survive.

The curves most media and health officials refer to show the trends in total cases. Those are cumulative trends that rise with each new reported case. Those trends can never go downward. Most officials ignore the numbers that show new cases each day, which can go up, but also can and do go down as the epidemic is managed and runs its course. China and South Korea are not the only countries where this has happened. The same pattern is beginning to appear in some European countries that took timely public health measures.

We the public desperately need a bit more balance in responding to COVID-19. I appreciate the Review’s measured tone in its coverage of the scare.

We need to keep perspective – to look at things more broadly. I am not worried by the fact there are about 1,800 traffic deaths annually in Canada, which means that every day there is about one chance in five that I or any Canadian will be in a fatal accident. Or about one chance in 50 that any one of us will suffer a serious life-affecting traffic injury, or one in almost 500 who will require medical treatment. We have become used to traffic accidents and tend to take those risks in stride as normal, so most of us respond by exercising reasonable caution.

Yes, this epidemic is serious, but let’s not overdo things. Let us all take reasonable precautions, help those of our friends and neighbours who need help, and look forward to the flowers of spring. They too shall come.

Leo Lehtiniemi, Glen Robertson, Ontario