As Coronavirus Spreads, Panic and Misinformation Spread Faster

Creating anxiety, news of the coronavirus spreads and impacts students and faculty in the school setting.

As the news of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads, students and faculty are impacted in the school setting as the outbreak unfolding creates anxiety.
For school nurse Bonnie Miller, she sees the virus impacting the student body’s anxiety level.
“I’ve seen more people come in on an anxiety level, it’s making everybody anxious,” Miller said. “We’ve had students in elementary school that they may be immuno-compromised and their parents are keeping them home. It’s just kind of a panic, and everybody feels that way.”
In advising students who are concerned, Miller expresses the relatively low risk students are at.
“I [tell anxious students] a majority of the people that get this and are healthy will recover like they would from the flu or cold and so they shouldn’t worry,” Miller said.
Miller also advises following the recommendations the CDC releases.
“Be cautious and try to keep yourself as healthy as possible and follow the recommendations that [the CDC] is putting out there,” Miller said.
For AP Biology teacher Patrick Murphy, he sees misinformation and conspiracies add to a level of oversimplification and panic.
“I think people like to latch on to the conspiracies about intentional release of this virus by the government or other things,” Murphy said. “I think that people like to have simple, easy to understand explanations for things.”
According to Murphy, the mortality rate in the United States is additionally inflated due to lack of data points, which additionally creates panic.
“[Testing] is part of the reason why right now you see a lot of misinformation related to the United States, because we’re not widely administering tests,” Murphy said. “Our numbers [for confirmed cases] will undoubtedly go up as we begin testing more and more people because a lot of times people just get the flu and they don’t go to the doctor or they don’t want to go pay for some crazy coronavirus test and they may have the coronavirus. When those numbers go up though the death rate numbers start to go down.”
Murphy continues that the deaths from coronavirus are more likely to be recorded than those who survive.
“If a person dies we know that they had the coronavirus because they got so bad they went to the hospital and then they died. But a person who just mildly gets sick doesn’t ever go to the doctor and get tested,” Murphy said.
Students in Souderton are also affected by the closing of institutions due to the coronavirus.
For junior Jeffrey Li, his chinese school was closed down in response to news of the outbreak.
“It was shut down after the week of Chinese New Year because everyone goes back home to their family, and a lot of our teachers are from China. They went back to China so they were worried that they were going to get sick and come back,” Li said.