Education Matters During a Pandemic

Last week at school I read “Huckleberry Finn,” learned about viruses, looked up Nike’s financial information, studied the Great Depression, practiced using present progressive tense in Spanish and simplified trigonometric functions.

 

When crises such as a pandemic hit, some students become preoccupied or lose interest in school. They may feel conjugating verbs in Spanish isn’t relevant, that they have bigger fish to fry.

To me, it is the exact opposite. I am seeing firsthand the importance of education and critical thinking.

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I walked through the hallways last week and heard students talk about the coronavirus, and I couldn’t help but get frustrated when I heard false statistics or information taken out of context.

There may not be a perfect trigonometric curve to graph the decline in toilet paper, but the critical thinking I learned from Algebra 2 Trig/Honors is so important.

In this time of crisis, we need to talk about the importance of being educated because nobody wants to be Patient 31.

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According to news reports, the 31st patient to test positive with the coronavirus in South Korea is responsible for 80% of all cases in the country. She was involved in a car crash. At the hospital, she was told to get tested for the virus because had a fever. Instead, she went to a buffet and church, spreading the virus to many.

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I believe if she’d had any idea of the outcome, she’d have reacted differently. She was simply undereducated on the issue.

Unfortunately, and despite all the good information available, that’s still often the case. I’ve heard it in the hallways and seen it on social media.

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My education has given me the tools to access the best information and weed out the noisy speculation.

Here’s what I’ve learned on how to address some common misconceptions about the coronavirus:

“The flu has killed more people than the coronavirus.”

It was a bad flu season killing between 22,000 to 55,000 this year globally. As of March 17, there were 7,426 deaths due to the coronavirus. While it is devastating that more people died of the flu this year than normal, that doesn’t mean we are unnecessarily freaking out about the coronavirus.

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The reason we are taking it so seriously is that it is hospitalizing people so quickly and spreading so rapidly that hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed. In Italy, for example, they are having to choose who lives and who dies. This was not the case for the flu.

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Author Susan Cain wrote about why people should be taking social distancing seriously. She described an older friend with stage-four cancer and said she is very scared because if she gets the virus and the situation in the U.S. gets as bad as Italy, she could be left to die. Think about that. Who do you know who could be left to die?

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“I am young and healthy, I’ll survive.”

Young and healthy people do survive the coronavirus. It is also true that it can lead to pneumonia and weakened lungs for life. If I can avoid putting my lungs at risk, I will.

But we need to think beyond ourselves.

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Even if you are not at high risk, you are at risk of spreading the disease to others who are at high risk. A report this week from the Imperial College of London warns that the uncontrolled spread of the disease could result in 2.2 million people dying in the United States. Think about your older grandparents or teachers or neighbors who ARE at higher risk.

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“There’s such a low mortality rate.”

Actually, the mortality rate is in flux, and is different depending on age, health and even how it’s calculated. We do know that flu has a mortality rate of 0.1%. The Centers for Disease Control says coronavirus could be 10 times that. One out of six people infected by coronavirus become seriously ill and develop difficulty breathing. Socializing now isn’t brave; it’s stupid and selfish.

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“The panic being caused is scarier than the coronavirus.”

While I did not foresee people fighting over toilet paper, I would rather see people scared than not scared enough. If Patient 31 had shown a bit of the “panic” everyone is referring to, the spread of the disease in South Korea would likely be far different.

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Blaming the media for exaggerating is ignorant. More people need to know what the virus has done to Italy. They need to know what steps to take to be safe. They also need to draw upon their education to critically examine news sources.

Not everyone on social media is an expert, not all posts are legitimate.

Look to see the source of information and decide if it’s credible.

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The last big pandemic the U.S. saw was the Spanish flu 100 years ago. My great-great grandma’s mom died in the outbreak, leaving her motherless at age eight. If I lose my mom in this pandemic, I will be crushed. I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to play a game of chance with death. I’ll follow the precautions, and I hope you will, too.

 

Information and action are the best ways to protect as many people as possible.

In times like these, education is so important. I support education, do you?

Register to vote YES! for education on May 5, 2020.

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Other resources:
https://www.vox.com/2020/3/15/21180342/coronavirus-covid-19-us-social-distancing

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]