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Herald editorial: Utah, let’s not overreact (or under-react) to the coronavirus

By Daily Herald Editorial Board - | Mar 8, 2020

Have you heard enough about the coronavirus yet?

We at the Herald feel a little worn out from the constant virus news, but we also felt the need to base an editorial on the way our community is responding to the virus.

On the one hand, there are people literally buying 20 Costco-sized packages of toilet paper and scrambling to get at the shelf of dwindling water bottles. On the other hand, there are people rolling their eyes and projecting their opinions (mainly through social media) about how this virus is way overblown and not a problem at all.

As for buying out grocery stores’ shelves of supplies, please stop. The coronavirus is not a cause for panic, and it’s certainly not going to necessitate a five-year supply of toilet paper (Is anyone else befuddled by the randomness of the supplies people are hoarding in their panicked state? Why are the main things toilet paper and water bottles out of everything else you would need in an emergency?).

We shouldn’t forget to take the situation seriously, and take appropriate precautionary measures, but let’s not spiral into fear. So if you fall more on the overreacting side of things than the under-reacting, take a step back and evaluate if your thoughts and actions are a responsible, or a fear-induced panic response.

But on the other side of things, we also take issue with people criticizing others for wanting to stock up on emergency supplies. Especially in Utah, these criticizers probably have a year’s worth of powdered milk, wheat and powdered jello in their basements already.

Emergency preparedness is a big thing in our area, and we think that’s great. Let’s not discourage those who are starting to prepare, even if their actions are sparked by this virus.

On the state level here in Utah, we hope officials act with rational, responsible accountability. We’re not going to get into the whole situation involving a state coronavirus response team taking to Twitter to reprimand President Trump’s comments about “misinformation” regarding the virus.

But at the same time, we appreciate our state government being proactive in cases where a real state emergency could happen. Better safe than sorry, right?

One of the main reasons to declare a state of emergency is to have better access to funding and resources to prepare; so no, the “declaration” is not reason for residents to start panicking. We haven’t hit zombie apocalypse societal chaos quite yet.

We also appreciate the Utah Department of Commerce issuing a warning about con artists seeking to capitalize on the fear and confusion surrounding coronavirus news. History shows that Utahns can be especially susceptible to scams and phishing schemes. Please never respond in any way to emails asking recipients to donate money or to give personal information.

And last but not least, you’ve probably heard it about a hundred times since this virus became a thing, but please, please wash your hands. I mean, you should already be washing your hands even when there’s not a worldwide virus, but most of us can do better.


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