Public panic caused by COVID-19

Published 1:26 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By Judith Victoria Hensley

Contributing Columnist

The current public panic started from a small, slow pace where people seemed curious about the corona virus 19, but weren’t too concerned about something going on as far away as China. I’ve heard the media blamed for stirring up public fear and panic.

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As the virus changed and ways of catching it appeared to change, the public started taking a little more notice of these events. However, the onset of panic didn’t come until the virus was known to have passed from China to other countries and not long after, appeared in the United States.

I’m still not sure what initially triggered the buy out of toilet paper and Clorox wipes in the beginning, but the panic mindset has certainly progressed since then.

I believe the biggest contributors to the panic are media coverage which has accused our leaders of not doing enough from the very first day. In all fairness, how could they do what had never been done before, knowing only a small fraction of the possibilities? The other big factor is that news coverage and leadership from around the world are sending mixed messages. One will say it’s a global pandemic and another will say that everyone is overreacting.

I have tended to believe that the buying frenzy of certain items has been a gross overreaction by the public. BUT, when shopping for simple familiar items only to find the shelves completely bare of those things, it certainly gives a person reason for pause.

Are people stocking up for a couple of weeks, a month, or literally for months? Is it necessary, prudent, or simply a panic and hording response to the possibility that these items will become difficult (if not impossible) to purchase in the near future.

Panic never brings the best out of people. They become fearful, self-absorbed, and look for the worst in the day to day world as events unfold.

I firmly believe that level heads should prevail from the individual citizen to the top leadership in the nation. As the public, we deserve honesty. Perhaps the real truth is that those speaking to the media and making decisions don’t know the answers or severity of this pandemic.

I don’t think the situation truly got my attention until billion dollar industries started voluntarily shutting down and major events were being cancelled left and right. When those who stand to lose billions of dollars are peacefully willing to comply and shut down, we can be sure that what is going on is far from usual. There is fear among the economic moguls. There is fear among the government leaders and health officials world-wide. And in response to these things, fear is born in ordinary people.

I am in no way fearful for myself. I believe my days and length of life are securely in God’s hands. When I am promoted beyond this life, I know where I will spend eternity and all is well with my soul. My deep concerns are for my loved ones and for the suffering that may come to many I know and love.

I’ve been reminded in my thoughts repeatedly of the Bible verse, “Perfect love casts out fear.” If our trust is in God instead of the pile of toilet paper or hand sanitizer on the local store shelves, we can find our peace again. We can think calmly, praying about the things that concern us and rest in the assurance that none of this is taking God by surprise.

We have no idea how long things may remain inconvenient for us, or how complicated things may become, but we know for sure that this too shall pass.