Fear is more viral than the virus itself

Lojuanda Weary/The Lion's Roar

It’s really no secret that COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus, has caused economic concerns both domestically and overseas. 

If you go to any grocery store, you might have a hard time finding the disinfecting products you’re looking for. Rubbing alcohol? They don’t have it. Toilet paper? Depending on where you live, you might be out of luck. And don’t even bother purchasing hand sanitizer online, unless you want to pay over $25 for a bottle of Purell. 

The coronavirus is having a direct impact on the economy, and the impact is so substantial that I begin to question what is actually causing people to strip the shelves bare.

According to Industry Leaders Magazine, in epidemics, 90% of economic loss comes from the fear of people being infected from the disease through contact.

Fear is driving the economic decline. 

“Disney has said operating income could take a hit of $280 million after it was forced to close two theme parks,” stated theguardian.com. “Ikea has closed all of its 30 stores in China, while McDonalds shut about 300 restaurants, 10 percent of its network in the country.”

People’s concerns are valid, considering that “between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

However, I can’t help but sympathize with the countries who are suffering from this economic impact the most, and trust me, it is not just America. 

Shanghai Disneyland, the National Museum of China and even the Great Wall of China have all been closed indefinitely. 

In the newspaper South China Morning Post, Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of luxury travel agency Embark Beyond, shared that tourists are avoiding Asian countries that are relatively safe to visit.

“People are cancelling Sri Lanka and India just because it’s part of Asia,” said Ezon. “There haven’t even really been cases there, but so much is unknown that people are just staying away.”

Tourism is an economic backbone in many southern and eastern Asian countries, and the livelihoods of many people will likely continue to suffer for the rest of year.

If you think the issues overseas will not translate over to the U.S. economy, you might want to think again.

“Over the next four years, it [Tourism Economics] predicted, the U.S. would lose more than $10 billion in spending from Chinese visitors,” according to travelweekly.com.

The economic impact of the coronavirus is an intertwined issue that will continue to affect the U.S. to some extent. Large American companies with global supply chains such as Apple and Walmart will inevitably be disrupted as factories continue to shut down. 

Understandably, the nation is shifting their focus towards fighting off germs and bacteria, but I worry that their efforts are misguided.

Hand sanitizer is out of stock in pretty much every major retailer, and if you would like to buy some, your best bet is to purchase it from an individual seller who could charge you up to $150.

Excessively purchasing and using hand sanitizer will not eradicate the entire coronavirus pandemic. In fact, using too much hand sanitizer can cause damage to the skin, making it more possible for germs to enter the body. Children are also more prone to weakened immune systems through the use of hand sanitizer. 

I understand the abundant desire to be cautious, but when caution translates into excessive fear, we only create more problems for ourselves.

Teaching jobs are in jeopardy now that many schools have closed down. People are less compelled to eat out, so smaller businesses and hospitality workers will suffer.

Reading this, you might find it counterproductive of me to present an economic problem without giving a solution, and I agree. I really do not have a direct solution to the economic crisis.

However, I can say this: do not let fear control the situation. Do not spend all of your money stocking up for the next apocalypse. The best thing we all can do is stay informed and take proper precautions to fight off the virus.

It is okay to be cautious and to limit your social interactions, but we cannot stop living our lives, and we cannot continue shutting out our neighbors. We can take protective measures while also being informed.

If we want the economy to bounce back, we have to stop spreading fear.