Unless you live in a cave, the coronavirus, COVID-19, has affected the way you live in many ways. Mine sure has. Some good, others bad.
For starters, I no longer have to commute to work. My physical office has been closed for two weeks now, indefinitely. So I’ve been working from home ever since.
But not so much for the millions of healthcare workers, my RN wife included, who has to physically tend to sick patients in close quarters without sufficient protective gear.
To “Flatten the Curve”, social distancing measures and heavy lock downs are being enforced by many countries across the globe, including the Philippines, to avoid health care systems from becoming overwhelmed by the exponential growth of the illness.
In Italy, for example, where many of my coworkers are based, there’s already a huge shortage of ventilators. This is due to the unusually large number of critically ill people. Doctors have to make that heartbreaking decision of who should be taken off of them. So others who need it more lives. Sick people lying on stretchers in the hallways because there’s too many.
Flattening the curve is extremely important to prevent more deaths and control the spread of the disease. There’s no question, social distancing must be religiously observed. We might not get sick from the virus. But we can also pick it up and spread it.
But do you know that there’s another curve that governments around the world need to flatten?
It’s the plethora of fake news, hoaxes, and misinformation being shared widely online as people try to desperately seek information on the coronavirus crisis.
And because there is no such thing as social-media distancing, misinformation can spread exponentially faster than the virus itself.
Oftentimes it’s coming from seemingly intelligent family members and friends who, out of the goodness of their heart, wanted us out of harm’s way.
I’ve been receiving the same messages like the one below in my FB Messenger from people who don’t even know each other. A strong indication that fake news has become viral.
You can get sued, or worse, thrown into prison.
Let’s say you innocently shared the fake news: you can distinguish COVID-19 from the common cold by “breathing deeply, holding your breath for 10 seconds, and if this can be done without coughing, you surely have no coronavirus.”
Then one of your badly stricken coworkers read it, performed the test in front of his wife, and declares himself coronavirus-free instead of immediately rushing to the hospital.
Days later, your coworker dies, the wife sees your stupid message on his cellphone and sues you for $1,000,000.
It seems unlikely, but there’s no shortage of ambulance chasing lawyers in America who will go extreme measures to suck away your (or your insurance company’s) hard earned stash of cash.
It doesn’t matter that you sent that message “out of the kindness of your heart” because, in criminal law, negligence may substitute for criminal intent under specific circumstances.
Spreading false news without verifying the sources can arguably constitute negligence depending on your jurisdiction, which could mean prison time.
If you are one of these people, I urge you to stop.
How would you feel if you’re Neil Armstrong and people are spreading the news that the moon landing was faked?
Or you’re one of the virologists stressed out hard 24-7 in search of a vaccine or cure, and here you are spreading the news that mixing lemon with baking soda can cure COVID-19??
People die because of ignorant people sharing fake news all over the internet. Remember the white-supremacist Dylan Roof? He hopped inside a black church in Charleston and murdered nine innocent people. All because of a misguided belief that “Black people are killing white people every day on the streets.”
The problem with spreading seemingly harmless news like the “lemonade cure” is that it might embolden people to go out and not practice social distancing because a simple sodium bicarbonate drink can lessen their chances of having the virus.
Instead of helping to flatten the curve, you can make the situation much worse. This is a time for facts, not fiction.
For the first time in history of mankind, you can save the world by simply staying home, sit on one’s ass, and watch Netflix.
Don’t blow your chances.