Coronavirus: Fear and Fear Mongering

The technical name is COVID-19, but to the mainstream it is known as the dreaded coronavirus. It originated in Wuhan, China and within the last few weeks has become a global pandemic, with Italy, Iran and South Korea being the countries affected most after China. As of now, there are 80,000 confirmed cases and 3,169 deaths in China because of this virus. To put that number in perspective, one needs to remember that China has over 1 billion people in its population. It might seem cynical but if there is any prevailing incentive to get a handle on this issue in that nation, it is not because that the People’s Republic of China has any major concern for the humanity who are dying from a disease whose seriousness the government previously denied and then downgraded. Rather, it is for economic reasons. Nations should be rethinking their economic investments and connections to China. The disruption in the stock markets of the world have all happened because of wild fears about companies, factories and other industries who lines of communications and production lines have all been seriously threatened, and the country which only a few months ago was the unstoppable industrial “juggarnaught” which runs the world’s economy is now a lethargic, high risk endeavor that is giving investors ulcers-like the Leaning Tower of Pisa did for the people who invested in building that edifice in the 12th century! The idea being put out to the world is that everything is alright at the base-“don’t worry about it, we have everything under control!”-except the “tower” is leaning.

I should not be overly hard on China on this point. At present, the companies that are doing extremely well are the pharmaceutical companies who are involved in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus as well as those who are making surgical masks for people to wear (the company 3M has at present an order to make 45 million masks, and that was yesterday! The number continues to rise). The stock prices for those companies have “gone through the roof”. While I am a capitalist and believe such incentives to go a long way to developing vaccinations and antidotes quickly, I am no fool to believe that everyone (or anyone) involved is going to be the “honest to goodness”, who will not “milk” this situation for maximum profit. That may not be a good thing to say while COVID-19 is the main item on the news, but considering the facts of the behavior of such companies in previous years, it is an entirely realistic possibility. And now comes the issue about Fear and Fear Mongering. And by the way, the surgical masks do not prevent anyone from getting infected with the coronavirus.

It is unfortunate that for most of the media, any issue that can be politicized to embarrass the President of the United Donald Trump and especially to effect an outcome in the November presidential election with the desired outcome being to see President Trump leave Washington D.C. with the “his tail between his legs”, will be done so without any restraint. One commentator in one of the networks slipped and spoke from his giddiness when he said, “Now we have a chance to win!” Like China, there is not a concern among such academics, pundits, political operatives, and politicians for the people who are affected by the virus but rather their personal agendas. Whether it’s to affect the outcome of the presidential election or to sell more advertising space, the media is hoping for something like the Bubonic Plague.

A couple of facts have to be established. First of all, the coronavirus is not the same as the Ebola virus or the HIV/AIDS virus. According to the medical heads in the Center of Disease Control and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, at present the only preventative measures against the virus just measures that are considered general hygiene: wash your hands often, sneeze into your arm, and wear surgical masks if necessary. In other words, this virus, while contagious, does not mean automatic death. Its most notable feature or symptoms are similar to that of the common cold or flu. According to the medical researchers, general physical fitness is, at present, the best way to beat this virus if someone has it. As a safety precaution, quarantine is the only way to bring some type of containment for it. Whoever should become sick with this virus, should do all the above while staying at home. The people who are most vulnerable are the elderly and those who suffer from diabetes and blood pressure issues.

As said, this is basically the same type of protocols for those who have the cold or flu now. And, pharmaceutical companies are actively developing vaccinations for this virus. Then how does this issue become such a hot button issue and the main news item here in the United States?

I returned from India last week. There were travel advisories for those who are traveling to the East, but specifically to the Orient and southeast Asia. India is within the “neighborhood” and while there were empty seats on the flights that I took to India, there was no active testing for the coronavirus at the international airport for people coming into the nation, or leaving from there. Nor was there such a search at DFW airport when I returned. There were people wearing masks at the airport and in the plane but as one young lady told me, “it is the flu season”.

I do not know how serious this situation with the virus for the simple reason that much of the press coverage and the international responses are purely reactionary. Asia and Africa are places with a high probability of new diseases or viruses coming to the forefront virtually every year. Perhaps it is cynicism, but in the past in China and India, whenever the “next deadly disease” showed up, the government response was undergirded by the idea that this was just “population control” - and therefore “no big deal”. That being the case, given what we do know now, why so much fear mongering? What is the only real solution to the problem? The experts are doing their research, the government is doing its work as best as they can. Nothing that anyone can do is going to affect the outcome of the disease in anyway shape or form. Whatever information that is available is being revealed by the government as fast as they can to prevent widespread panic, nothing more can be expected right now. The only thing that we can do then, is to pray that God would move on this situation. Psalms 127: “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps watch but in vain.”

Yesterday, President Trump issued a travel ban to any flights from Europe which will last for 30 days. The reason for this to try and prevent the spread of the virus via new carriers into any given community or metropolis. The coronavirus is not the deadly type of virus such as the Ebola virus. It has a less than 1% mortality rate. What is problematic is that if several people at a time are affected, it will put pressure of hospitals and medical institutions and companies very quickly. Economies and the factors that affect therein are affected as lines of communication become threatened and the fear of infection on anything coming from an infected territory inundates the press. The potential of so many affected for a period of time not to mention the fear factor involved is more than enough to trigger all sorts of frightening economic rumors which in turn will trigger violent upheavals in the stock market. What President Trump did took tremendous courage but he is not going to be lauded for it one bit. Instead, until this whole thing is resolved the Democrat left will do everything in its power to use this situation for maximum political capital. If that is the case, may God have mercy on them! God only knows what would have happened if this government had been one that in addition to surrendering much of this nation’s industrial capacity, banking, and development, to China and to open border policies in the name of politics…this situation would be ten times worse. But most of the press would have done its utmost to look the other way. Donald Trump is the only man who could have ordered such a command without a second thought. There are many who will say it should have been done sooner or that it was too much or some other thing; I say that it would never have been done has it not been for President Donald Trump. And to underscore this point, the emergency stimulus bill in the congress shows that concern for this pandemic is the last thing on Democrats' minds. Speaker of the House of Representatives is so concerned about the virus that she has decided to attach to the bill a provision for taxpayer funded abortion - I am trying to figure out how that helps cure the coronavirus! I cannot put it past for one moment that much of what is going seems to be of a nefarious nature. But we will say it to the government of this country as to the rest of the world, God - not man - in control. And nothing is going to happen that is outside of His controlling hand!

In the meantime, as people of God, we should be forthright about our faith. No we do not have to be quacks who abuse the time with so called miracle “cure all’s” or prophecies of doom. But we should be bold about our faith now. Many mega churches and Christian institutions are shutting down for the next couple of weeks - I can understand if a college or school has to do that, but a place of worship - I just do not think that will lend any credibility to the cause of Jesus Christ one bit. Times such as this are testing periods for the Church, and God must find us faithful in these moments. Every church will have to make its decisions about their services according to the wisdom that God grants, but I hope that they will do it in faith not fear. As Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas told reporters, “worship is not entertainment, it is essential for believers in Jesus Christ.” The validity of that statement will be very revealing this weakened in many a church, both small and large. As a Pentecostal, someone who believes in the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit, I believe that our greatest, if not our only protection is in the presence of God and our only healing is in the movement of His power upon people. I know that a lot of people will have trouble with that idea but look at the world in which we live…nations/peoples are in total fear of becoming sick with a virus with a 1% mortality rate. Sports leagues such as the NBA and NHL have postponed their seasons, college basketball has postponed March Madness. Fear has gripped the hearts of people so much that they are going on shopping binges for toilet paper - how that helps prevent the coronavirus - I have no idea. But the point is that in a world that is absolutely terrified, who else are should we turn to for help? If people in general are perplexed and the people who are responsible for answers are unsure if they have found them, then how can anyone laugh at believers in Jesus Christ who trust in God and take by faith His promise of His help and intervention and help in the times of trouble through the name and person of His Son Jesus Christ?

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