There is a lot of angst regarding the corona virus (COVID-19). Oddly, most news coverage focuses on its impact on the stock market.
The news media, critically important for a democratic society, focuses on stories that sell newspapers, encourage internet clicks, or result in more pharmaceutical advertising during the evening news.
However, it’s best to put things in perspective.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are now 459 COVID-19 [link] cases in the United States. There was a death today, which although is regrettable, makes a total of one.
On the other hand, influenza (the flu) has sickened at least 19 million across the U.S. and led to 10,000 deaths and 180,000 hospitalizations. This does not seem as significant because we encounter influenza every year. The Spanish flu in 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world.
The disease that infects millions and kills thousands is no big deal because we see it every year. A new disease, because it is novel, scares us to (near) death.
I’m not minimizing the potential of the virus. However, COVID-19 has been sensationalized, so the threat and probability of encountering it are more prominent in our mind, regardless of likelihood. Each of is, at least at this point, far more likely to be seriously affected by or to die from influenza, yet we focus on COVID-19.
I wish each of you good health–and a speedy recovery for your equity holdings.