It is not ridiculous, and no, the world has not lost its mind.

The impact of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, in the United States and locally here in Lyon County has exploded this past week. In just the last few days, we’ve gone from the status quo to schools calling off classes, sports seasons being wiped out completely and regular updates from our local health department.

Thursday evening, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly declared a state of emergency when Kansas recorded its first death due to the virus.

The fact of the matter is, this is a serious situation. Still, there are many online chastising others for being “ridiculous,” lamenting that the entire world has gone crazy or claiming that everything is being blown out of proportion.

”The flu has killed way more people,” is a popular rallying cry for those holding to those beliefs. And it’s not wrong, but it also is essentially comparing apples to oranges.

According to information released March 11 by Johns Hopkins University, about 61,000 people in the United States die of the flu each year out of about 45 million people who contract it. That is a mortality rate of .14 percent — or a little more than one death per 1,000 patients. As of March 11, there were 1,039 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. Of those, 29 of them resulted in deaths. That’s a mortality rate of about 2.79 percent — or about 28 per 1,000 patients. It’s been much higher in other parts of the world.

The difference between one and 28, in this case, is a big one. To put it in perspective, if the same number of people who get the flu each year got the coronavirus, there would be more than twice as many deaths — about 125,550 to be exact. When you put it that way, the virus is much more deadly.

But — and don’t confuse this for “fear-mongering” or “sensationalism” — there are vaccines for the flu. Though scientists are working on it, there is not one developed yet for COVID-19, and the exact rate of spread is still essentially unknown; we just know it’s fast. There is a very real, if not likely, chance that many more people will be infected with coronavirus than who get the flu if immediate and drastic measures to stop its spread are not taken.

That brings me to the second excuse for blowing it off I’ve noticed a lot online. “It’s only deadly for the elderly and immunocompromised. I’m young and healthy, so I’ll be fine.”

Again, that’s probably true — although it doesn’t account for what the virus does when, not if, but when it mutates. Again, this is a new virus that we really have no way of predicting at this point.

The problem is, scientists are saying it can sometimes take a week before someone who has contracted the virus shows any symptoms. In the meantime, they can go about their daily lives and unknowingly spread it to countless people with whom they come in contact.

The reason cities are putting a moratorium on large gatherings; games, concerts and shows are being canceled or postponed; and schools are delaying in-person classes indefinitely is to curb the spread of the virus. If 18,000 people attend an NBA game and even a handful contract the virus, who knows how many people they might spread it to before even knowing the’ve been infected. The cycle continues and multiplies with the patient who caught it from the person at the basketball game.

And, yes, I’m 34 years old and in relatively good health. If I were to catch the virus, though there are no guarantees, the odds of beating it would be in my favor. But what about my immunocompromised friends and family members, or elderly people I might come in contact with before realizing I have the virus? They might not be so lucky.

What we’re seeing now is not panicking; it’s taking proper, albeit unfortunate, precaution.

The truth is, I have a lot of people whom I love that would be in a high-risk category. If there is any way to curb the spread so that they don’t catch it, I’m all for it.

I’d rather make a few sacrifices and be inconvenienced in March and April than spend May and June attending funerals.

Zach Hacker


(47) comments


BigRed, the numbers haven't changed much, some predictions still say 1-2 million deaths in the US in the next few months. Hope it's not true. We're still in the first "wave" and the curve is steeper than both Italy and Spain. Hopefully all these closures will have a big effect.

Out Of Here Prev: SnowGypsy

Your 1-2 million deaths was a "could" by some British group, and no one knows enough about it to do anything but guess. Spreading this constant doom and gloom based on missing the difference between "could" and "will" needs to stop. Get off the media websites and try reading medical and science websites instead!


Wasn't it you who was posting things from "RealClearScience" and telling people not to trust what the CDC says? Yes it was. And my comment says it's a prediction. That prediction has been made by more than some British Group... and it was also made back before you and the rest of the Republicans started taking this thing seriously. Glad to see you've finally come around, but you should really get off your high horse.


I remember Bill Maher wishing for people to suffer with a recession, so that we would vote President Trump out of office. I have to wonder, if he still wishes for that.

Comment deleted.

Trump knew about coronavirus months ago, and told us January 22 that he had the virus "totally under control". He later called it "their (Democrats) new hoax". Then people on Fox news (and here too) started saying things along the lines of the more they learn about coronavirus the less they worry about it, it's just another attempt to impeach the president, and the worse case scenario was that this is the flu. Have you already forgotten last week when Republicans were saying this was an excellent time to go out and enjoy a meal at your favorite restaurant? And that packed mega-church? Those packed beaches in Florida for spring break? I think Trump should get a decent amount of the blame for not doing anything for 8 weeks leading up to this. Closing travel from China was obviously not going to be enough... Trump is now claiming he always knew coronavirus was going to be a pandemic. He said it just yesterday 3/17/20


Avoid contact with other humans if at all possible. Now, it just don't get any better advice than that.

James Bordonaro

To my fellow commentators who believe that fears of the coronavirus are overblown, commonsense would say that you not vote for President Trump since he is the one who declared a National Emergency ("two very big words") and is now recommending that people don't gather in groups of 10 or more. For those who think that the President has been slow to respond and failed to take any responsibility at all commonsense would also suggest that you not vote for Trump either. If you're Goldilocks or think that Trump actually merits a 10 out 10 for his efforts then he's your guy.

Gary Lukert

Trump Ripped Obama under a similar, less dangerous virus. What you hear from the Democrats now, would PALE if this were a Democratic President.


Zach, not a bad article but here are a couple other considerations. In the United States we have over 3000 auto related fatalities a day, with another 20-50 times that number injured or disabled. Of course we restrict speed and engineer our autos and roadways to be safer, yet we all accept 3000+ deaths a day as acceptable and get behind the wheel. We do not shut down the roadways, tell people to stay home and wreck the economy. By all means we should self-quarantine if we are sick or around others who are sick. I believe we should also be quarantining the elderly and those with immune disorders, which puts them at higher risk. But I do believe what we have done is overkill. I believe we are killing a health economy and putting many small business owners out of business. In retrospect I believe we will determine that what was done was overkill. I certainly HOPE it is overkill and the Coronavirus does not spread as easily and widely as the medical community believes.


This is 96.4% untrue. There were 100 traffic fatalities per day, on average, in 2018. 3000 per day would mean more than 1 million traffic deaths per year. In 2018, we had 36,560, or about 3.6% of the number you made up for your comment.

Italy reported 368 deaths from coronavirus on Sunday. That is 3.6 deaths by coronavirus in Italy for every expected traffic death in the US for the same day. That's what we're working on. That's not overkill.


bubarubu - My mistake, you are correct there are 1.3M auto related deaths per year in the world. It was not a made-up statistic. Yes, 100 traffic deaths in the US per day, every day, every year. This is the US not Italy. If you want to base your assumptions on Italy, they have their country on lockdown and they are still dying. I stand by my statement that the lengths to which we are taking this is overkill. I find it interesting that people bandy about 60%-70% of all people will contract this virus. Based on what information? No country has shown that degree of spread. I guess time will tell.


Google the part of your comment "about 60%-70% of all people will contract this virus" and you will find where the numbers come from. These are not made up statistics. A congressional doctor also estimated 150 million will get sick in the US, but both of these predictions were made before President Trump started taking this (somewhat) seriously. Containment and quarantining are going to have a big effect on lowering those numbers.


Yes, Italy is on lockdown because other measures were insufficient to stop the spread of the disease. South Korea has been able to limit the spread pretty effectively through the sort of early drastic action we didn't take. They are now reporting fewer than 100 new cases per day. Most of the new cases they do have are from people and organizations who refused to follow the guidance on limiting the size of public gatherings. Do you somehow think that we are more immune to this virus because we're in the US? Since the time I posted to correct you yesterday until this moment, the number of positive tests in Kansas has roughly doubled. We're up to 17 now, and that's without a strong regime of widely available testing!

Look, I get it. Having to change our lives in significant ways to respond to this pandemic sucks. I already work from home, but today *should* have been spent working with the first round of the NCAA tournament on and then getting away to work at the coffeeshop when I got too distracted. Instead, there's no tournament on, I'm having to constantly divert my attention from my work to making sure my kids are doing what they need to, and I can't go to the coffeeshop because they have closed their seating. Those disruptions suck for me. They're going to suck a lot worse for the employees and owners of the coffeeshop who are going to have trouble making payroll and paying the bills. There are a whole lot of other people out there with a lot more risk in this situation than I have. But I know, as do they, that by taking these steps now, there's a much better chance that we don't have to continue drastic steps for as long, fewer people get infected, those that do get better care from a medical system that doesn't get overwhelmed, and FEWER PEOPLE DIE. So no, this isn't an overreaction. This is a big step now to minimize the impact later.

Gary Lukert

Was a big lie, but, you are up Trump so far, and he lies like this every day. The last thing in the world Trumpers believe in is the Truth.


Aim High and bubarruba, I know the medical community has come up with these extremely high contamination rates. What I was saying is, we haven't seen anything near that high. Even in China and Italy the contamination rate is WAY under 1% of their respective populations. I never suggested the numbers were made-up, I was wondering where they were coming up with those numbers. Since then I have learned that the medical experts expect this virus to hit in waves. So, this is just the first wave and China should expect to be hit with another wave even though they appear now to have the virus under control. The waves theory is what I was missing.

James Bordonaro

I believe the author is off by several magnitudes on the number of traffic fatalities in the U.S. on an annual basis. According to data from 2018, there were approx. 36,560 deaths in vehicles (and another 6,000 or so pedestrians). See statement of Sec. Chow here:


Stats we know, flu vaccine reduces cases by 40-60%. Vaccine reduces 6.2 mil cases per year, yet only 60% of population gets vaccinated. If and when a vaccine is available for corona, will the country embrace it or go into hibernation like we are now? We will see how long memories last.

Out Of Here Prev: SnowGypsy

Stats from the CDC? Actually, less than 50% are getting the flu shot now. The flu vaccine in 2017-2018 was just 25% or less effective, imagine how many products one would buy if they only worked 25% of the time, especially keeping in mind the possibility of side effects for some individuals. For the 2019-2020 flu season it is 45% effective, but in reality when looking at the corona virus in the province where it started in China, only 1 in 1,000 contracted it, and this is without a vaccine. So if dependent on a vaccine with a population of 1,000, it would have been effective for 450 of that 1,000, or maybe, it wasn't that effective at all since no one can say that the 450 people in that 1,000 would not have contracted the virus in the first place. Memories? Who remembers the pandemic of 2009 - swine flu? Putting things in perspective.................

James Bordonaro

A related question is whether the President will embrace an as yet to be identified vaccine for the coronavirus given his well-documented irrational belief that giving multiple childhood vaccines in combination promotes autism and what effect that may have on his supporters.


If a coronavirus vaccine promoted autism, common sense says Trump would immediately endorse it since that pretty much guarantees his base will grow.

Ma Barker

Maybe that's what happened to Donny jr Eric and Ivanka.

Out Of Here Prev: SnowGypsy

I saw you had an issue with another individual concerning grammar, so I knew you would want to look at this post again. Who is Donny jr Eric? Where I come from "jr" is capitalized, and commas are used between names.

James Bordonaro

While the advise you provide is solid, we should not forget that there is are political and social components to the present crisis and those of the recent past. This particular virus is believed to be zoonotic in origin. That means it likely mutated from an animal host. Some scientists believe the host to have been endangered pangolins, the scales of which were being used for so called Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM is far from scientifically sound and is responsible for the poaching of tens of thousands of animals like the rhinoceros whose horn is believed to provide virility in men. The current General Secretary of China's Communist Party, Xi Jinping, (a murderous dictator) has been a strong proponent of TCM. Just a few weeks ago, China, in recognition of the zoonotic origins of the coronavirus, (which has caused more than 80,000 cases of covid19 and more than 3,000 deaths in that country) outlawed the eating or use of wild animals although many conservationists believe the practice is unlikely to be significantly curtailed by the government without international pressure. Therefore, rather than continue to coddle Xi, the President should take a hardline approach in the ongoing trade negotiations or it is quite possible the entire world will find itself hunkering down again in the near future.

James Bordonaro

My apologies for misspellings and grammar in the prior post but such was composed on my cell phone and I admit to a lack of manual dexterity.


Be Mindful ? Proactive? Take it seriously? What does that mean excactly. other than be scared an panic, Wash hands , thought we already did that , tsay healthy drink water ect. Aught to be doing all that already, . Gst sick stay home. Don't most folks do that ? What They really mean is STAY GLUED TO THE TV NEWS INTERNETT AN PAPAER ALL DAY, YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!!!! Oh an look at these cool advertisements while your at it, lookit free shipping next day delivery . When this is over should I be Un Mindful an stop washing my hands?


Being mindful means being aware of something, being proactive means to do something in anticipation of a future problem, and "take it seriously" means to treat something as important. None of these words mean "panic" as that is defined as "sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety."

With your confusion on the definition of these words cleared up, I'll say that most people don't always just stay home if they're not throwing up sick, especially those only making $30 an hour or less, because they are mostly living paycheck to paycheck. They have this tough guy attitude that "being a strong American an getting through is a better way to go" which ultimately ends up spreading the virus further. If you want to go back to not washing your hands when this is over, that is up to you, I would advise against it though. Kinda gross.


Good piece, Zach. Solid advice. Thanks for being a voice of reason and not paranoia.


Except it is ridiculous-- my family is Italian. In 1956 or so in Italy (and the world) there was a very similar epidemic called "L'influenza Asiatica." It started in asia, and spread throughout the world. It was a variant of bird flu, categorized 'H2N2' -- look it up. It was a big deal back then, and people were trying to protect themselves. Ultimately it killed approx 2 million people worldwide. My grandmother said even in the face of this danger, even in the face of no vaccine, the world didn't absolutely lose their mind like they are now. She said even on the cusp of a World War (!) people didn't lose their minds like this, and there was active rationing then and real shortages. People didn't stop living in the face of adversity back then, but apparently we're all too fragile to do the same now. Yeah, people died, but we have much better technology now, and even without a vaccine (which is coming soon) the numbers will never be like the pandemics of the past.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't be concerned, yes, elderly and immunocompromised should worry, but buying an entire cart-full of goods at a costco isn't going to help anything. Buying months worth of groceries is making things worse. Also, lines at grocery stores do nothing but help the virus spread. How many people queued next to infected people this week in the 200 people long lines across the world? How much traction did COVID-19 get in the face of panic buying? Because tbh, in panic buying, it looks like an ideal way to spread to me.

You cannot say this isn't an over-reaction. It's not proactive what is happening now. Self Quarantine might be? But honestly, it should be self-quarantine for high-risk people and such. Ultimately to put a halt to industry to this level will hurt the entire worlds economy in the long run, and again, the poor and the elderly will also be the first to suffer.

Also the panic buying means items don't go to people who actually need them. Families who cant get to the shop or cannot buy the amount they need. Moreover, there is no reason to hoard items-- there are online services which mean if you do get quarantined you can just have your groceries delivered. There was never going to be a shortage of items even with two weeks (or even a month) of quarantine. The problem is people are buying a years worth of stuff for unfathomable reasons, because of articles like this who say, 'yes panic'. Yes, it's irresponsible. Yes you are making a bad situation worse.

Self-isolate, fine. Protect yourself as best you can. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. But don't buy 200 rolls of toilet paper to do it.

Honestly, even people in China panicked less than this, and they are still the ones who copped the brunt. Things are as bad here or as worse and the western world is like 1/100th less affected than China. It is ridiculous. Sorry.


In response to some of the comments here, I never claim to be an expert. Far from it. Though I did get my information from a report by Johns Hopkins University, which I do feel is a reliable source. The numbers I used, by the way, are actually pretty conservative compared to most other studies I've read.

I also was not suggesting people should panic. I think people should live their lives, but also should be mindful of recommendations being made by health experts and take proper precautions if they get sick.


At this point in this mess, Zach, you have as much expertise as any of us who are not in the medical field. But the naysayers are always out there ready to pounce. I liked your piece because it contains what we sorely need these days, logic.

Incidentally, I am in the over age 70 category and so I especially appreciate what you say about taking this virus to unsuspecting friends and family who are immunosuppressed. I am so sick of hearing the whining about missing basketball games. It saddens me to see that so many spoiled Americans have actually built their lives around a series of games. For goodness sake, entire countries have shut down over this virus, and they are complaining about missing basketball games.


Folks over 70 have a %15 or higher rate of death from the regular flu an Pneumonia. Just a sad fact of life. Face it lots of folks are fatalist an want something bad that they can get all excited about. News folks cause a panic an then sell advertising off the panic driven response , then they get mad a Wal Mart for being profiteers , Least they sell a product , newsmen sell fear an despair an stress . If it was a boring day no one would be reading the paper, ,I'm sure ad revenue is waaay up


So 34yr old newspaper boys have reliable sources? What do they know that any Old "hick" at bluestem doesn't know? This is a new virus an most folks nowadays have not been through anything like this so NO ONE knows any more than anyone else, Polio , small pocks , Spanish flu , we somehow made it through an with toilet paper to spare , So panic if you must , but being a strong American an getting through is a better way to go


I don't think a "newspaper boy" and "newspaper editor" are the same thing, but nobody expects a hick to know better... and I knew the "hick" remark would get your goat boy. lol. I've overheard some of the conversations while shopping at Bluestem, and I think I'd listen to Zach Hacker before what Billy Bob and Jim Tom told Joe Bob at the free coffee stand.

Being a strong American sounds patriotic and all, but the better way to go is listen to the experts and wash your hands, practice "social distancing", stay away from crowds. Make sure you got plenty of TP too lol.


%1-%2 is based on a limited number of cases most from a rest home, say you put in a new floormat an 2 folks walk on it a 1 falls down so %50 of people walking on it fall down 2 weeks later that percentage would drop as more folks walked on it.

%2 will not die an even god forbid if they did , what would panicking do?.


You're dividing by the total population instead of infected population.

Out Of Here Prev: SnowGypsy

For some perspective, this is an excellent article: I think the biggest lesson that will come from this is that if something really bad gets into the population where the death rate is extremely high, we are pretty much finished! Worry more about something getting out of that new BioAgricultural Complex that is being built in Manhattan. They will have some real bad stuff there! With the Spanish flu interestingly older adults were much less likely to die because of the immunity they gained through their life. I had noticed so many relatives that were under 20 had died during the Spanish flu, thus my interest in gaining more knowledge about it. Most that are dying have other serious medical concerns, and die of "complications" of the flu or be it the corona virus. Biggest age group dying in China was 80+ year old individuals. They say to limit exposure to media as the emotional toll can be worse than the virus for people's health. Also, I trust nothing that the CDC says, nothing due to their inability to tell the truth from being "in bed" with big pharma. Seriously, look for science/medical websites for information, not the CDC and definitely not CNN who wants to Trump to take the blame for the virus.


RealClearInvestors and Crest Media own "Real clear science" as well as RealClearPolitics, RealClearMarkets, RealClearWorld, RealClearReligion, and RealClearSports. While the name "Real clear Science" has an official sounding name to it, no scientists work there and it is ultimately a news site, such as CNN or Fox.

Anyone looking to see the actual numbers from actual studies done by actual scientists can visit the center for infectious disease research website.


Folks like to criticize the President for not being a virus expert an still advising, Is a 34 yr old paperboy a expert? I mean other than controlling the ink in Lyon Co. why is Mr. Hacker's opinion any more valued than the guy at the coffee urn at Bluestem ?


A newspaper editor gets their information from reliable source whereas the coffee guy at Bluestem gets his information from Republican hicks who have nothing better to do than repeat whatever Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity say to him. I'd trust the paperboy over the coffee gossip crowd anyday. I hear the popcorn popper gets good info tho..


Sorry sir it is panicking. eventually most folks will get sick , just ;like the flu in 1918 is the same flu we get every year today. If 1 little virus can get us all in a twist imagine if something real bad happened. I think it happened naturally but China has to be seeing this an thinking HMMMMM, this easy to get folks to submit an beg for someone to take control. What might be coming next


There are vaccines and treatments for flu, not so much for the novel coronavirus. Predictions say 40%-70% of us will get sick, with a mortality rate of 1%-2%. That means 132 MILLION will be sick, with 1.3 million deaths.. on the low end. Younger healthy people have little chance of dying, but those over 70 have a 15% mortality rate. Some panic is justified, but they should have been buying soap instead of toilet paper.


Ok, this is where you've gone from strawman to painfully ignorant - the Spanish Flu is not the same flu we get every year. The deaths caused by it are not at all what people die of from the flu today and the average fellow at Bluestem (since that seems to be your benchmark for "informed citizen") will not be able to cite the difference between mortality causes, why the healthy died back a century ago, and typically is is not the same today unless a secondary infection sets in), while at this point a journalist or editor covering the current news cycles can tell you. Average Joe will know a lot about their spheres of experience and life, and the rumors about town, however Small Town 'Merika ranch supply stores are not famous for facts outside of their immediate Fox news feeds, or data points beyond their zip code.


Wow , I totally agree, we should panic an buy out the stores an hole up. panicking is good for folks facing a flu.

Out Of Here Prev: SnowGypsy

Hey, have you been listening to CNN? (HAHAHA) The lesser educated, you know the herd mentality that has grabbed them by the ears via CNN can't be cured with a dose or two of commonsense. I have no idea where the above "expert" (again, hahaha) got his figures, but they "hold no water" at all if one relies on websites that are putting forth medical/science info, and you know, we aren't talking CNN! It is sad that so many of the younger adults are unable to think for themselves, "put 2 and 2 together", I guess this is why so many parents are choosing homeschooling now. I figure those who get their flu shots are the most likely to panic as they depend on them, even when they are 10% effective, to keep them well. An excellent piece on vaccines is here: and it links in several science/medical related articles to backup the research done by the doctor writing the article, although most that look beyond liberal media already know much of what the article covers. Keep a sense of humor when it comes to the liberals, actually I kind of pity anyone that can't think for themselves. It takes about 2 seconds to figure out they are quoting liberal news, and I just brush them off as irrelevant.


Can't think for themselves = definition of anyone who sites a blogspot article as something credible. I suppose it's nice that it's not from Geocities.

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