People are afraid. Ever since the coronavirus contagion broke out in Wuhan, China fear of its deadly spread has been magnified in the press. China tried but failed at containing it and it has been unleashed on the world. Reports of newly confirmed cases around the globe are steadily pouring in.
I am going to share a few numbers, which are obsolete as I share them because things are changing so rapidly, to try and put things in perspective. About ten years ago the H1N1 virus, the swine flu, was reported by the Centers for Disease Control to have had 60.8 million cases with 12,469 deaths.
Thus far COVID-2019 has around 400 cases confirmed in the U.S. and 12 deaths. While those figures cannot begin to compare with the flu pandemic that swept through America ten years ago, it probably has not peaked here yet. Things could get worse before they get better.
Precautions have circulated that include measures like staying at home, avoiding crowds, wearing masks, and getting tested. Quarantining confirmed cases is popular, but I am not sure it will prove to be effective; I don’t think trying to hide from it will be the answer. There was a soccer game in Italy without any fans cheering them on because of the fear of contracting the disease in a crowd.
Some churches and denominations have issued what they believe are best practices regarding matters like attendance and communion. And many believers are left wondering how they should respond to this threat to our health and wellbeing.
I don’t think we should allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the hysteria and panic in the face this potential pandemic. We need to keep our heads to help those most vulnerable among us, the young, the elderly, and those whose health is already compromised.
We should be neither fearful nor reckless in our actions. The righteous man “will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord,” Psalm 112:7. Fear should not paralyze us, nor should courage make us reckless.
Bad weather like tornadoes and hurricanes, and plagues like the one threatening us are powerful reminders that humans are not really in control of much of anything that significantly affects us. While we are thankful for the medical advances that will aid us in dealing with threat to our health, it is an opportunity to point others to our hope in the Higher Power.