The Contagion Among Us

Yes, it’s true there’s a new threat to our health and wellness. But I’m not just talking about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Rather, I’m talking about our reactions to the frenzied news coverage saturating seemingly every media channel.

I’m filled with the greatest sympathy for those affected by the virus. The death and despair brought to households and communities worldwide is a sobering reminder to stay ever vigilant in our efforts to combat disease locally and worldwide. It’s also a wakeup call to make sure we’re as prepared and well-informed as possible.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot we don’t know. What we are seeing, however, are fear-based responses stoked by sensational media coverage of the virus. Do we see hoarding each winter as flu season takes hold? Did we see it when other infectious diseases such as Ebola were in the news? No. Yet we’re seeing it now, and this kind of response sends a bad message. As a Canadian doctor named Abdu Sharkawy notes in a Facebook post that’s been shared two million times (as of March 18), “I’m scared about what message we are telling our kids when faced with a threat. Instead of reason, rationality, open-mindedness and altruism, we are telling them to panic, be fearful, suspicious, reactionary and self-interested.”

I couldn’t agree more. The accusations and innuendo I see in the news are not the level-headed, factual kinds of reporting that could actually help tamp down hysteria and fear mongering.

At Borden, we’re staying in close communication with our employees, customers and consumers. The reality of our business is we’re constantly making adjustments. Even when we respond to natural disasters such as hurricanes, it’s crucial to avoid knee jerk reactions or do anything that might contribute to a level of panic. We now need even more steadiness and clarity in our communications.

I’m staying up to date with announcements and directives from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. I’m encouraged to see data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that more than 82,000 people worldwide have in fact recovered from the coronavirus. And for more local updates, I’m paying close attention the Department of Health in my home state of Texas and the other states Borden operates in.

Dr. Sharkaway concludes his Facebook post by saying, “Facts not fears.” Let’s heed his advice to eradicate this contagion of fear among us.