As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, media outlets have focused their attention on the little-known disease.
The 2019 Novel coronavirus, a strand of coronavirus related to SARS and MERS, has infected more than 24,000 people around the world as of Wednesday, killing nearly 500. Twelve residents in the United States have fallen ill.
Because the coronavirus is new, and the World Health Organization declared it a crisis on Jan. 30, it’s right to receive some media attention. But the media is ignoring another health crisis, one that strikes around the world annually and killed more than 60,000 people in the United States last year alone: the flu.
Along with the political doings of President Donald Trump and his impeachment trial, coronavirus has flooded the news cycle. But with all of these events, we shouldn’t just look at the number of stories in the media, but instead look at the numbers in the media’s stories.
Certainly, the coronavirus has proven to be dangerous, even lethal. It’s spreading rapidly around the globe, affecting not only Southeast Asia but also North America and many countries across Europe. People everywhere should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others — starting with washing hands often and staying home when one feels ill.
In last week’s Influenza Surveillance Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 19 million Americans have fallen ill with the flu this season, sending 180,000 to the hospital and killing 10,000. That’s 20 times more deaths than coronavirus — and that number just includes those who’ve died in the United States.
The numbers show that we should be much more concerned about the flu than coronavirus. And we should definitely wash our hands.
Coronavirus is spreading, and the media is right to cover it. But even when the media covers the facts, it might not always tell the whole truth. The facts the media chooses to focus on can skew the perception of the truth.