If your friends or family members are spewing nonsense about the virus, it can be pretty frustrating.
“Where did you get your facts?” you may ask.
“Bobby shared it on Facebook,” your uncle replies.
“Is Bobby an expert?”
“No,” he answers.
“Did you research that to see if it was true?”
“No but it makes sense,” he reasons.
“So, how can you be sure it’s true?” you aren’t letting this off the hook.
“Because it was on Facebook.”
Here’s how to deal with the COVID-19 deniers while still being reasonable, (mostly) politie and using facts.
Here’s how to tell your misinformed friends the facts.
Argument: Only old people are at risk.
Rebuttal: It’s true that elderly people are the most at risk for severe outcomes. According to a CDC report, death rates were highest in people 85+. Only about 1% of people aged 20-54 have died from COVID-19. But, that doesn’t mean you’re indestructible if you’re young. Another report by the CDC found that 29% of coronavirus patients were between 20-44. The group was responsible for 20% of hospitalized cases, 12% of them being in the intensive care unit. On March 24, officials reported the first death of a minor in the U.S. due to coronavirus. These numbers will likely change and become clearer as more testing is done. But to be blunt, this means that younger people can develop severe cases and potentially die from COVID-19. Even if you don’t care about dying, young peoples’ risk isn’t the only point. The bigger problem is that if you get it, you can unknowingly transfer it to someone at a higher risk, potentially killing them.
Argument: My grandpa said he’d risk his life for the economy.
Rebuttal: #1 of course he did. He probably risked his life for everyone during WWII, meanwhile you’re complaining about staying at home (okay, don’t say that, only me).
If you think putting human beings—let alone your own blood—below money is okay, then it’s hard to argue. It’s hard to argue logic to somehow who doesn’t hold basic human ethics, morals or values.
But for a second, let’s throw morals out the window and (hopefully) pretend you don’t have a soul. There’s still drawbacks to people dying other than—well, people dying. When healthcare systems are overwhelmed, those who need non-coronavirus-related help won’t be able to get it, leading to even more deaths. This, in turn, can also screw up the economy. Yes, either “solution” means the economy will take a hit. But one out of the two will kill fewer people and hurt the economy less…
Argument: It doesn’t even kill that many people compared to the flu.
Rebuttal: Firstly, that’s not true. Secondly, there’s a lot of factors to consider. Only about 0.1% of people who get the flu die from it. That’s compared to the current global COVID-19 death rate of 4.7%. With that being said, death rates vary significantly by country. Italy’s is more than 11% while the U.S. hovers below 2% (which is still higher than the flu). Also, according to WHO, the deaths from coronavirus 2019 have already far surpassed those of SARS, the 2002/2003 coronavirus. Another point is that the seasonal flu has different strains each year, but is still predictable, meaning we know how to control it. COVID-19 is new, which is why there’s only limited data. Also, researchers are suggesting that COVID-19 seems to spread easier, meaning that more people can be infected if we don’t contain it.
Argument: Physical/social distancing doesn’t apply to me because I’m not infected.
Rebuttal: Have you been tested for COVID-19? Because that’s the only way you’d know. Even if you have been tested, it’s possible you weren’t infected then, but are now. Based on the available data, symptoms can appear in up to two weeks. That means you can feel fine now, have no idea you’re infected and infect other people. So yes, this does apply to you.
Argument: I can go over to friends/have friends over because none of us are infected.
Rebuttal: Refer to the rebuttal above.
Argument: But I can just gurgle hot water or [insert other random-ass fake remedy].
Rebuttal: Just because you read it on social media doesn’t make it true. Use logic: If this were true, why is only one doctor in Taiwan saying it? Why is he the only person on earth to not bow down to the coronavirus conspiracy? When you spread misinformation, you hurt other people and I doubt you want that on your conscious.
Argument: Trump said he wants the U.S. to be open by Easter, so I should be fine to go out.
Rebuttal: Realize Trump says a lot of things that aren’t backed by any fact. It’s possible that some states or cities will go “back to normal” quicker than others, depending on how the virus has spread. However, no experts have said that will happen by Easter in the U.S. or Canada. Experts are saying to stay home unless you’re an essential worker or you need to buy a necessity.
Argument: I can go for a walk with my friends though.
Rebuttal: It’s safe to walk with those you live with if they’re not sick because they’re in your “bubble” already. It’s not safe to walk with those you don’t live with because you’re potentially introducing new germs.
Argument: The economy is more important because it will affect more people than the virus.
Rebuttal: You’re right, the economy is important. But so is health. If we don’t control the virus, it will actually affect a lot more people. It’s hard to have an economy when there’s no human beings left to participate in it.
Argument: Daily life shouldn’t change. This is human nature. The fittest survive.
Rebuttal: Maybe it’s in human nature to prioritize our way of living over other people’s lives. And if that’s true, to that, I say be better. Every animal evolves. If you don’t evolve to care about others, you’ll probably be left behind.
Argument: We need to re-open America/Canada because I’m out of a job and I’m broke and barely surviving.
Rebuttal: I’m sorry. This situation sucks and so many people are feeling it. I don’t have any easy answers. But what I do know is that if we ignore the problem, isolation will last longer and we will be broke for longer. We may go through hell trying to survive now and this isn’t our fault. But, unfortunately, this is necessary for our health and those around us. Nobody likes this.
Argument: I’m going out because I’m bored.
Rebuttal: This sucks. Many of us are bored. But the longer we don’t listen, the more this will go on for. And if we don’t listen to the recommendations right now, the government will put laws in place to force us to listen. This could have bad consequences, so you’re better off just listening now.
Argument: The media is making this worse and fear-mongering.
Rebuttal: Many media outlets are relaying the facts. Media has actually played an important role in getting out public health messages—such as to wash your hands and physically distance. It’s important to know the facts and what you should do. Other than that, nobody requires you to watch the news 24/7. If it makes you anxious or fearful, turn it off.
Argument: This is a conspiracy and China is trying to wreck America.
Rebuttal: Consider what this did to China. Consider what this is doing to the entire world. Now consider that I can make up a conspiracy theory relating COVID-19 to just about anything. For example, Trump is allowing it to spread because he wants to divert attention away from the democratic nominations and the election in general—all so he wins again. Or, bank CEOs purposely spread the virus so the public would owe more in interest. Or, bats got so tired of only living at night that they attempted to reclaim daylight by transferring the virus to all humans. Or, my dog convened with your dog and they decided that humans should be home with their pets more often, so they organized a worldwide conspiracy. I could go on and I want to. But I’ll spare you. These sound idiotic, right? Some conspiracies are cuter than others. But all are equally unhelpful.
Argument: The empty shelves means there’s no supply and I should hoard when I do see the item.
Rebuttal: Experts indicate that there actually is enough supply of groceries and toilet paper. The problem is that when many rush out to buy certain items, the demand significantly increases above a normal amount. While there is enough supply, retailers can have trouble keeping up with the demand for various reasons. In some areas, such as Canada, they’ve lifted the ban on noisy night deliveries to ensure more efficient stocking. If everyone buys what they need, when they need it, we will all be fine.
Argument: I get that I don’t need to hoard, but it helps my anxiety.
Rebuttal: It’s natural to have anxiety about this and most people are worried to varying extents. But we also need to consider the impact our coping actions have. For example, if we buy up all the rice, when the single mom finally gets a paycheque, there won’t even be one bag left for her family. Instead, try to find other ways to control your anxiety. This could be mindfulness, meditation, talking to friends, keeping busy, going for a walk, journaling or therapy.
Argument: Crowded parks are okay because the wind blows away the germs.
Rebuttal: That’s not coronavirus scientifically works. If you’re standing within 6 feet of someone, transferring germs is possible, even outside.
Argument: All of the sources you’ve quoted here are from government departments or the fake mainstream media. I don’t trust any of that.
Rebuttal: Then who DO you trust and how can you be sure THEY’RE accurate? And which is more likely: That every single government official and employee, nurse, doctor, long-term facility worker, journalist, editor, statistician, researcher and scientist—across the entire world—are all involved in a giant conspiracy theory? Or is it more likely that governments across the world are working to control a pandemic that’s been predicted for years?
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