To some people the coronavirus seems like much ado about nothing. To others it’s the beginning of a catastrophic pandemic that will kill millions across the globe. But regardless of the truth, governments around the world will use it as an excuse to “do something,” no matter how dangerous, counterproductive, or detrimental to liberty that may be.
In China, hundreds of millions of people have been quarantined, and factories have been at a near standstill for a month. All this for a disease that has officially infected 80,000 people and killed about 2,800. In Japan, schools have been asked to close until the end of March, in a country that has only about 200 confirmed cases of coronavirus. In the US, with only about 60 confirmed cases, how long will it be before we start seeing calls for quarantine?
Thus far it seems that coronavirus is nothing more than a stronger version of the common cold. From October 1, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that there have been 30 to 40 million cases of the flu in the US, requiring 280,000 to 500,000 hospitalizations, resulting in 16,000 to 41,000 deaths. Those figures far outstrip the dangers we’re seeing from the coronavirus, and the death rate from the coronavirus is only about 2-3%, far less than the 6.8% we’re seeing from the flu so far.
But governments have never been ones to let facts get in the way of taking more power, so don’t be surprised to see quarantines going into effect, particularly in large cities and metropolitan areas, starting on the West Coast. Because of their proximity to China, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle are likely to be the first cities to see the effects of the coronavirus.
Less widely publicized is the fact that the coronavirus, like SARS before it, targets ACE2 receptors, which are found more commonly in Asians than in Europeans and Africans. So even if the virus were to become widespread in the US, its effects likely wouldn’t be nearly as severe as in Asia.
We know that the coronavirus’ effects on the Chinese economy, and by extension the world economy, will be great due to the slowdown in production that has already taken place. But the virus’ dangers shouldn’t be exaggerated by any means, nor should the potential dangers be used as a cover to deprive Americans of their freedoms. When the dust settles and we look back at this coronavirus, we’ll likely realize that this was nothing more than a strong cold, and not the second coming of smallpox.