Many across Arizona are doing just that, rushing to Costco to buy toilet paper and other items amidst the constant news and social media posts about the coronavirus. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus a 'pandemic.'
Before you freak out, let's look at what this really means?
Merriam-Webster defines pandemic as, 'an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and affects an exceptionally high proportion of the population.'
WHO use of the term 'pandemic' simply refers to how fast this disease has spread around the world. There are now 188,000 cases spread across 100 different countries. The word pandemic doesn't imply how dangerous this strain of coronavirus is (COVID-19).
But, that's not how most of us interpret it. We think of those disaster virus movies like Outbreak or Contagion. In those movies, a virus leads to a societal breakdown and millions of deaths.
This is the power of language.
The reality is, government officials use words like pandemic to free up resources that cannot be utilized without an official declaration. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey did the same thing today by singing an emergency health declaration. It sounds way worse than it is. The state can now access emergency funding to bring more medical supplies into the state.
22 other states have taken similar measures. Governor Ducey and other Governors don't want to get caught flat footed. So they are preparing. But, because of the language they use it gives the impression things are spiraling out of control.
This is one reason why people are panicking and grabbing up every piece of two-ply they can find. Government officials are somewhat responsible for this and now this pandemic has become a panicdemic.