WHO suggests ways to counter fear of coronavirus

Posted April 29, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States, which now has about 1 million cases and more than 50,000 deaths, people are concerned for themselves, their family and their friends.

“I wasn’t scared at first, but I’m finding the more news I watch, I get scared. I’ve stopped watching the news,” said my mother, Michelle Harvieux. One morning, she was watching the national news and saw a taped interview with a doctor in an emergency room in Chicago where they were treating a patient who was suspected to have the coronavirus. Later, the reporter asked for an update on the patient and the doctor said that he had died.

“I sat there and cried and that is the last time I watched the news,” Harvieux said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is promoting strategies to deal with the fright that many of us are feeling. For those worried after watching a 24-hour news cycle, the WHO recommends limiting media consumption that is perceived by the viewer as upsetting. It’s good to take a break from the hard-hitting news and watch a favorite movie or TV show instead.

The WHO has also recommended staying in contact with friends and family through technology. Practicing social distancing, a strategy used to prevent the spread of disease by maintaining a safe distance of several feet, does not mean losing contact with loved ones. Text, call and FaceTime each other. Maintaining important relationships will help cope with some of the fears that the coronavirus has caused.

“I think the scariest thing is that we weren’t prepared for an epidemic of this level,” said my friend, Alana Skarstad, a junior studying English. “The fact that so many people need help and we can’t help them is terrifying.”

Both the Wisconsin and Minnesota governors issued “stay-at-home” orders for their respective states. For many college students like my friend Lillian Gunderman, a junior studying teaching TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), it means temporarily giving up things that we enjoy.

“I’ve been following the rules and precautions for those around me. I’ve had to be selfless,” Gunderman said. “I know that I’m not likely to be affected, but I can still carry it and affect others around me.”

We all can take steps recommended by the WHO to alleviate some of the fears that have been caused by the spreading of the coronavirus.