It’s been interesting hearing people’s response to the coronavirus.
Some have reacted with fear, heading to their nearest grocery store to stockpile nonperishable goods for what they consider to be the next Armageddon. Others have expressed more mild interest, even making light of the disease in jest.
But then there’s a particularly vocal group who have reacted to the disease with outraged denial, convinced that COVID-19 is an overblown hoax. It’s an interesting response.
The first question that comes to mind is why deny?
Currently, the novel coronavirus has inflicted 109,400 people in 95 countries, killing 22 in the United States as of Monday morning. Although considered a variation of the flu virus, it is more lethal, and no vaccine exists yet to fight it.
Many have criticized the media for blowing the disease out of proportion. Some like President Donald Trump have reacted with outrage to that effect. He has his reasons, one likely being the disease is a serious attack on the sparkling economy he has overseen since taking office.
But at the end of the day I’m sorry to say to the naysayers, numbers don’t lie.
Now, it should be noted those who are not senior citizens do have a very high chance of being able to successfully fight off the disease even if contracted.
According to the World Health Organization, about 3.4% of people who have garnered the disease have died and 80% of total cases have been considered mild. A study from Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention found those under 70 years old have a less than 4% percent chance of dying.
But that same study found those 80 years old and older have nearly a 15% mortality rate.
Fifteen percent; let’s think about what that means to our community and senior population.
That’s about one of every six to seven people. No specific statistics exist for how many 80 and older live here, but we do know that Cody has nearly 2,000 people aged 65 years and older. A 15% fatality rate among those 80 years and older would likely equate to more than a few deaths.
Now, I am not saying that's going to happen, but it's cause for concern.
It is interesting to me that people react with hostility when it comes to discussing being prepared for a possible problem. As much as we love to cherish Wyoming’s independent culture and level of isolation when compared to many other parts of the U.S., whether we like it or not, we are still in the same country as California, Washington and New York. People are still free to travel as they please, and commonly do travel to and from Wyoming for work and pleasure even in the winter months.
We are not living on an island, nor is Cody protected by a moat or castle walls. Flights arrive at Yellowstone Regional Airport every day. Considering the virus, which is considered extremely contagious, and the ease that our current modes of travel provide, it will probably arrive sooner rather than later.
In many ways Cody still is the wild west and just like in the golden days of cowboy life in the late 19th and early 20th century, diseases exist. It’s time to react to them in a 21st century manner.