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Emergency Rationing in Italy

blurred photograph of crowded hospital waiting room

When facing rationing health care resources, how can we ethically make decisions regarding directing care? In answering, we may attend to a famous thought experiment that brings out the tensions of making choices facing lose-lose options: The Trolley Problem. Originally articulated by Philippa Foot in 1967 in order to draw out tensions in utilitarian moral frameworks, this thought experiment has highlighted distinctions in common moral intuitions in domains from bioethics to military ethics. The classic trolley case was posed in a series of cases that press on whether considering the consequences of a presented choice is the correct deliberative path:

“Suppose that a judge or magistrate is faced with rioters demanding that a culprit be found for a certain crime and threatening otherwise to take their own bloody revenge on a particular section of the community. The real culprit being unknown, the judge sees himself as able to prevent the bloodshed only by framing some innocent person and having him executed. Beside this example is placed another in which a pilot whose airplane is about to crash is deciding whether to steer from a more to a less inhabited area. To make the parallel as close as possible it may rather be supposed that he is the driver of a runaway tram which he can only steer from one narrow track on to another; five men are working on one track and one man on the other; anyone on the track he enters is bound to be killed. In the case of the riots the mob have five hostages, so that in both examples the exchange is supposed to be one man’s life for the lives of five.”

This last case has been taken up as The Trolley Problem: a runaway tram must be directed either towards a track with five working men on it or a track with one man on it. Each case is presented in terms where the decision is between an action that results in the deaths of five or the death of one.

Morally relevant features in the deliberation favor different schools of thought in ethics: the consideration in favor of minimizing lives lost highlights the importance of the consequences of the choice, diverting the tram at all may speak to implicating an agent in the deaths (however many result), or, on the other hand, we may think that facing the choice implicates the agent whether she acts or not, or that making a choice between the paths qualifies vicious or problematic because it suggests that lives can be reduced to figures and statistics instead of adopting an appropriate respect for the incommensurate value of human lives.

The confounding tension of these (and likely other) morally relevant features in the trolley problem makes it an ethical puzzle that has stuck with philosophers and non-philosophers for decades. Though it was originally presented to draw out the tensions between favoring the morally relevant consequences of an act and any other features, the difficulty in squaring our explanation for the morally permissible response to cases like the trolley problem has led to various interpretations of moral intuitions and ethical principles in their own right.

For instance, Foot uses the case to discuss the Doctrine of Double Effect, which dates back to Thomas Aquinas in the history of “Western” philosophy. It draws a distinction between what you aim to do and the side effects of your action. If your aim is morally permissible, but it has morally bad effects, the Doctrine of Double Effect delineates when such actions are permissible. If you foresee negative side effects of your choice, but they are not part of your aim, then your choice is morally permissible. If the morally bad effects of your action are part of your aim, or are a necessary part of achieving your aim, then we attribute the effects to your action and it is not morally permissible.

Thus, if you redirect the tram to collide with one person rather than five, this would qualify as a morally permissible action because your aim is not to kill the one person, rather it is to save the five people (or to minimize deaths), and the death of the one person is a foreseen side effect. If the one person did not die, all the better, from the perspective of your aims and choice.

Between consequentialist reasoning (minimize deaths!) and principles like the Doctrine of Double Effect (bad effects are permissible as long as your aim is good and outweighs the bad!), there are multiple ethical frameworks that can make sense of permissible harm, even deaths, that result from one’s actions.

The healthcare choices facing the medical community in Italy are reaching a selection framework similar to the trolley problem. In the case of triage, or prioritizing some patient care over others, the side effects are clearly unfortunate; some people will not be receiving care that they need. Typically, decisions regarding triage prioritize care roughly in terms of first-come, first-served mitigated by severity. But when resources become extreme in terms of scarcity, or conditions become extreme in terms of survival, the stakes change. On battlefields and in the conditions we are seeing in Italy, the situations of need are such that physicians are facing incredibly difficult rationing decisions. By giving resources to one patient, they can anticipate others experiencing significant harm, deteriorating health, or even death.

The reality of the effects of COVID-19 in Italy is that resources have become incredibly scarce remarkably quickly. Resources include staff time and intention, materials like masks and respirators, and space like beds and rooms. There are limited amounts of each, and decisions regarding how to allot them are particularly fraught when lives are at stake.

In an opinion article for the New York Times, medical experts articulated the difficulty facing physicians:

“The goal should be saving as many people as possible, and treating those who are likely to get the greatest benefit from care. This will mean that treatment cannot be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, as it normally is. Traditionally, patients on ventilators are not displaced for other patients, and later arriving patients can be turned away in a shortage.

But in the coronavirus pandemic, business as usual would make patients with a good prognosis if treated suffer for want of treatment, while patients who arrive earlier but have a grave, or even hopeless, prognosis would receive treatment. Under that standard of care, more lives would be lost.”

The advice here adopts a standard of care that aims to maximize lives saved, similar to the majority of respondents to the Trolley Problem. In crises like the one affecting areas currently hit hardest by this pandemic, the calculation that saves the most lives means an alteration in how we ration care, in how we triage.

A major concern is maintaining the health of those professionals who are treating the ill. Thus, the role of the patient will play a large role in allocating health care. The perennial press for the Trolley Problem is what the physicians are currently facing: “What if the one person on the tracks opposite the five is the leader of a country?” “What if the one person is in charge of their family?” “What if the one person is a doctor?”… Unfortunately, this last question is particularly pertinent. As health care professionals treating the ill are currently in high demand, it is crucial to keep them healthy. Keeping one health care worker able to serve the ill population has ripple effects for the health of the community.

Deciding which principles to adopt in order to protect the health of our communities in the face of this pandemic are going to be difficult. The decision to withhold care is heart-wrenching, and should put pressure on our global community to increase the resources available to those in need to reduce the necessary triage and rationing. Indeed, that is almost always a response when the Trolley Problem is posed – surely, there’s a way out of making this decision. We have a moral obligation to help one another, and as Italy is part of the EU, perhaps the EU is specially positioned to provide aid and resources (and is, perhaps, failing in this duty).

Panic Buying and the Virtue of Compassion

black and white photograph of old and young hands touching

As the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, spreads around the globe, the prospect of more communities, cities, whole regions and countries going into lockdown is becoming a reality.

As I write this, in Australia mass gatherings are banned, travel restrictions are being introduced and a 14-day self-quarantine for anyone entering from overseas is being instituted. Yet even several weeks ago, before the mass cancellation of events and activities, one of a myriad of ‘effects’ of the epidemic in Australia has been a massive toilet paper shortage.

In many places around the country, especially the major cities, large supermarkets and grocery store shelves have been emptied. It is unclear exactly how this started; but once a view, and a concern, had formed in the community that there would be shortages of toilet paper people began to panic-buy and stockpile it. In so doing those people have created shortages which have in turn led to further panic and rushes on stocks as soon as they are replenished. This kind of panic-buying (a problem encountered also in other countries) has also affected many other grocery items and medical supplies, and concerns have been raised about whether some of the most vulnerable members of the community are missing out on essentials as panic buying and stockpiling continues. In response, as of yesterday, Australian supermarkets have now introduced purchase limits on certain items to prevent stockpiling at the expense of others.

It is often said, and often seen, that times of tragedy and trouble, bring us together, and bring out the best in us. We have witnessed many times (for example in the recent bushfire crisis in Australia) people coming together, cooperating, and helping one another in times of disaster sometimes at great personal risk.

These moments are often thought of as a kind of moral test. Though we do encounter the best of ourselves, and the best – most virtuous – moral reflection of human behaviour in such moments, the opposite can also be true.

A video which appeared on social media and then on mainstream news outlets last week of people fighting in a shopping centre over toilet paper illustrates what it can look like when people think of their struggle as competitive rather than cooperative – when people believe they must struggle against, rather than with, others.

In the video, one person has a large shopping cart piled high with packets of toilet paper and can be seen driving her cart away from an isle whose shelves are completely empty. A second person approaches, asks for one packet from the full trolley, and upon being refused, a physical fight ensues, in which two other parties promptly intervene.

The point of the example is not to show these particular people up, but to point out that this moment, and others like it not filmed and disseminated, represents the antithesis to the virtues of generosity and cooperation that are the markers of our ‘better natures’ and traits that we, as a community and a society, rely upon in times of crisis or trouble.

When we say something like “these are testing times” we mean that we may be tested in all sorts of ways – physically, emotionally, psychologically, socially, morally. Perhaps there is a sense here also of that test being able to tell us something about what we, as humans, are really like.

Many of the questions we unpack and debate in moral philosophy concern, at bottom, views about what human nature, essentially, is like: whether, for instance, we are more naturally altruistic or self-interested by nature.

It is clear even to a casual observer of the human condition there is a spectrum – of people, of actions, and contexts – between self-interest and altruism. We also know there are psychologically complex reasons for people to behave in certain ways in particular situations. It is a difficult question to answer – how separate should we should think of moral reasons as being from other sorts of reasons? Even so, the moral test presented by times of crisis and trouble is doubly significant as a test of our societal ethical values and those of our personal character.

Aristotle, in his treatise on ethics, made the cultivation of personal virtues central to the question of what constitutes an ethical life. The virtues are traits that belong to and are exercised by individuals. Importantly, they are acquired by practice in a process Aristotle called ‘habituation’ by which one learns to be virtuous by practicing virtue in a similar way to the learning of a musical instrument by playing it. He thought of the ethical life as a craft: learned and perfected through practice, rather than issuing from a set of rules.

Hoarding and scrapping, as captured on the film, is clearly not the kind of virtuous behavior that will help us to get through times of trouble and help us to emerge as a strong community. Behavior that issues from the self-interested, individualistic realms of human nature has its place in dystopian apocalyptic fiction, but such fiction foreshadows for us a possible reality.

As things currently stand, the public has been notified that essential supplies are not going to run out, therefore stockpiling toilet paper, and other grocery items, is irrational. Yet people are driven by panic and mistrust to continue to hoard. The appropriate moral response requires us to strengthen our character and that of our society against such impulsive behavior and to foster trust and listen to reason. We are rational creatures, and we are better when we use our reason – which suggests that our morality is related in important ways to our capacity for reason.

But there is something else – by which I do not mean something different from reason but something in addition to it – which we need for the moral life. Compassion. We need to cultivate, through a kind of ‘moral imagination’ the ability to see ourselves in the situation of another. We need to not make exceptions of ourselves, but to see in our own plight, that of the other. These capacities are fostered in the practical virtues of generosity and cooperation. Now is a good time to be practicing these virtues. We will need them for what lies ahead.

The Ethics of Panic Hoarding

photograph of empty shelves at a grocery store

Future historians are going to face a difficult time figuring out whether our current times should be called the coronavirus epidemic of 2020 or the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. Amidst the WHO’s declaration that the COVID-19 outbreak now constitutes a pandemic, border closings, and “self-isolation” in order to prevent the spread of the virus, many have decided that the prudent thing to do is to purchase large amounts of toilet paper in addition to hand sanitizer, and non-perishables. In the United States the run on toilet paper has caused shortages. In Canada, despite attempts to prevent similar outcomes, grocery stores were flooded with consumers buying entire shelves. Marc Fortin of the Retail Council of Canada advised customers that “You don’t need a supply of toilet paper or rice for months,” adding, “Let’s not fall into panic mode.” Certainly, some of what we have seen this week is panic, and an important issue we should consider is when panic regarding the outbreak is morally acceptable and when it is not?

First, we must consider what we mean by the term “panic.” Typically, acting in a panic is contrasted with acting reasonably. As I write, the US government recommends cleaning your hands often, using hand sanitizer, avoiding close contact with people that are sick, and distancing yourself from others if the virus is spreading within a given community. They also recommend staying home if you are sick, covering your coughs and sneezes, and disinfecting touched surfaces daily. The Canadian government recommends similar measures; wash your hands frequently, and cover coughs and sneezes. They also suggest changing routines to help prevent infection; shop during off-peak hours, exercise outdoors rather than indoors. We could assume that recommendations of the government, often made on expert advice, are a reasonable standard. However, the government also specifically recommends purchasing essential materials without “panic buying.” This includes having easy-to-prepare foods like dried pasta, canned soups and vegetables, as well as having extra hygiene products. Unfortunately, they do not explain what is meant by “panic.” How does one know if purchasing that 10th bottle of hand sanitizer or that 5th pack of toilet paper constitutes panic buying?

One way to understand panic is that it is a way of acting without reason. For example, if one is driving and faces an oncoming car that has suddenly swerved towards them and they close their eyes and turn the wheel in any direction hoping to avoid an accident, this could be called panic. In his study of practical reasoning, philosopher John Dewey defined reasonableness or rationality as an affair of understanding the relationship between means and the ends they produce. If one pursues goals, for instance, with no connection to the means available and without reference to the obstacles that will prevent one from meeting said goal, they are acting unreasonably. By contrast, we could define panic as an action that does not consider the relationship between means, goals, and obstacles.

Therefore, if one goes into a grocery store upon hearing about the dangers of COVID-19 and because of this they purchase items at random because they feel they need to, this would constitute panic. Certainly, there are at least some people who chose to purchase large amounts of toilet paper or food they would never eat simply because of sheer panic. Some have suggested that this kind of behavior may be caused by anxiety combined with a desire to copy the behavior of others. Such action, while understandable, is not reasonable. While this definition of panic would preclude the idea that such actions are justified, they aren’t necessarily ethically wrong. According to Michael Baker, a professor of public health, hoarding and bulk purchases may be a way of handling anxiety by establishing a feeling of control. While there is nothing ethically wrong with falling into this pattern, panicked shopping can lead to shortages of important items for others. We can end up purchasing things we do not need and, in the process, make things worse off for others in legitimate need.

However, it is not likely that the vast majority of such cases are sheer mindless panic. After all, if one does purchase excessive accounts of food or toilet paper, they could still be considering how these can serve as means to goals like potentially having to quarantine oneself. One may act with a certain degree of reason and still potentially panic. As mentioned, the Canadian government suggested that one may wish to stock up on certain items, not necessarily because they will need to self-isolate but in order to ensure one doesn’t unnecessarily expose oneself if they are sick. However, there is a difference between making sure that one has a few days of food and toiletries and hoarding. One can “do the math” behind such considerations, establishing a relationship between means and ends, but could still go overboard.

While the concept of “moral panic” is generally tied to cases like the Salem Witch Trial or the panic of Satanism in the 1990s, it was originally defined in the 1970s in a broader way to include reactions to peoples, groups, and events. A common feature to these definitions of panic includes the idea of disproportionality; one may act in a panicked way if their actions are disproportionate to what is needed. Of course this is difficult to measure as well. It certainly requires an adequate idea of the problem, and this can be difficult in the case of the epidemic because of the “overabundance of information” available. Regardless, given that toilet paper is not especially more important than other general household items that governments and other institutions are suggesting that people stock up on, it is still unclear why there is a disproportionate demand for it.

There is also the matter of inductive risk. What if the experts are wrong? What if the outbreak gets unexpectedly worse? What if grocery stores close? As some have pointed out, making sure that one has toilet paper if they have to be confined to their house (in other words, planning for the worst) may not be unreasonable. This, in addition to the unclear relevance of information and inconsistent messaging, has led to calls that we should not mock those who engage in hoarding. While mocking may not be the most helpful or considerate reaction, that doesn’t mean that panicked hoarders should be let off the hook either.

Hoarding, whether understandable or not given the anxiety and stress of the situation, still leads to harmful effects. For example, empty food shelves have made it difficult for charities to get food to the disadvantaged. It has also opened room for price gouging, something that again will hurt those worst off. While things could get worse, purchasing enough cans of tomato soup to last for years is not proportionate to the problem, nor is purchasing food that you would never eat anyways. Worse yet, by purchasing things you do not need while making others worse off, and only to help ensure that you feel more secure against unlikely outcomes, is an act of selfishness. Anxiety, stress, and fear do not absolve people from the moral consequences of their panicked behavior. If you are buying for a potentially long stay in your home, ask yourself questions like “Will this item actually help if I get the virus?” “How much will it help?” “How long should I reasonably expect to have to stay at home and given that, how much food and household items will I need?” And “Can I imagine others need these things more than I do?”

The Moral Case for University Closure

photograph of gate to school with "SCHOOL CLOSED" sign

When it became clear that DePauw University was considering cancelling in-class sessions and having students move out of their living units, I began thinking through a number of reasons why this was something that places of higher education should seriously consider. Collectively these reasons make a strong case for thinking that colleges and universities have a moral duty to take measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, and furthermore, that places of higher education might have added responsibilities.

The first set of reasons is more of a response to objections that students and parents might have for thinking that cancelling in-person classes is a bad idea. I’ll address those first. Then I will offer four reasons for thinking that colleges have more responsibility for mitigating the spread of coronavirus than other individuals or institutions.

Things Students and Parents Might Be Thinking:

  1. This won’t be bad for young students
    A common attitude that a student or parent might have is that college students either won’t get coronavirus or if they do it won’t be that bad for them. The first attitude is patently false. College students around the country have tested positive for COVID19 and many more will. The second attitude has a ring of truth to it. Most college students will probably not have severe conditions, but some will. Many young Americans have compromised immune systems due to heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory conditions, and cancers. And the death rates are much higher for coronavirus than seasonal flu.  Top US health officials say that this virus is 10 times more lethal than seasonal flu. The confirmed case death rate for the flu is about 0.1% while the confirmed case death rate for the coronavirus is about 3.4%.
  2. We’re all going to get it anyway, so why the drastic measures?
    I’ve heard some people say that it’s inevitable that everyone (or almost everyone)  is going to get the virus, and so it doesn’t make sense to take drastic measures to stop the spread of the virus. However, whether it’s inevitable or not, there is still significant value in slowing the progression of this disease. Imagine if you owned a restaurant and you were guaranteed to have 1,000,000 customers place an order, but you didn’t know when they were coming. You don’t want them to come all at once or within a few days of each other. You wouldn’t have enough servers or tables to handle them all at once. You would likely run out of food and supplies. It would be better to have those customers spread out over 12 months. COVID19 is like that.Some healthcare professionals refer to this as “Flattening the Curve.” As this article explains, we are much better off having people get this at different times. It makes it more likely that there will be beds and healthcare workers for those who need it most. It gives the healthcare service industry time to scale up production of vital resources to mitigate the effects of the disease and save more lives. Optimism is high there will be a vaccine, but it could be at least a year before we have a viable vaccine. Slowing the disease buys us time so that it may in fact not be inevitable that everyone gets this.

Why Universities and Colleges Have Extra Moral Reasons to Slow Progression of COVID19
There are good reasons for everyone to take steps to help slow progression of COVID19, but colleges might have an even stronger moral duty to do this work.

  1. Higher Education Structure Spreads Disease
    Here is a plausible moral principle: If you are causally responsible for a harm (or potential harm) you have an extra moral reason to take steps to prevent that harm. Universities and colleges are in this position with respect to the coronavirus. As this article explains, the things that make colleges wonderful also make them an exceptionally good breeding ground for pathogens. Universities and colleges are very social institutions. We encourage students to live on campus in close quarters. They attend several different classes a week. When you count the number of classes, co-curriculars, athletics, and social groups (such as fraternity and sorority friends), the average college student is in close contact with hundreds of people every day. Add to this that colleges are global institutions that send faculty and students abroad, and it’s clear that every college or university is a potential hotspot for an outbreak in ways that a lot of other organizations and businesses are not. That puts a greater moral burden on higher education institutions to act.
  2. Vulnerable Groups at Universities and Colleges
    The situation could be even worse at a college or university because the average retirement age for professors tends to be higher and universities often have a vibrant and active community of retired emeritus professors in their midst. This means that there is more at stake locally for your typical college or university. On the plausible assumption that employers have a responsibility to care for the well-being of those they employ, colleges have extra reasons to be concerned about slowing the spread of the virus.
  3. Fundamental Mission to Sustain Democracy
    It is sometimes forgotten that one of the fundamental aims of colleges and universities is to strengthen and sustain a legitimate and flourishing democracy. The Jeffersonian idea is that we need all of these colleges and universities to provide citizens with the knowledge, skills, and capacities to be good, democratic citizens. Our fundamental mission is not to educate students; educating students is simply how colleges and universities think they can best fulfill the fundamental mission of preserving our democracy. To that end, anything that is a potential threat to democracy should be of grave concern to any college or university and sometimes colleges and universities should be called upon to temporarily suspend the usual ways in which we preserve our democracy, especially if business as usual poses a different sort of potential threat.  And, yes, pandemics are a significant threat to democracy.
  4. Colleges in Small Communities
    This last moral reason applies to colleges and universities in small, rural communities. Colleges and universities have responsibilities to the communities that they operate within. The degree of responsibility is proportional to how much damage the college is uniquely capable of inflicting on the community. When a college is part of a small community with few other large organizations, they bear a greater share of the moral responsibility to limit the ways in which it might cause harm via disease spread. A place like DePauw is the biggest risk factor for Greencastle having an outbreak, and so places like DePauw have extra reasons to consider closing down.

The decision to close a college is disruptive for so many people, and I get the sense that many students think that these are arbitrary and capricious decisions that couldn’t possibly be motivated by sound moral reasoning. Whatever you decide about the wisdom of closing colleges, I hope you do so with the understanding that there are several significant morally relevant considerations that give college administrators and boards legitimate moral reasons to join the fight to slow the progression of this virus.


UPDATE: (3-15-2020)

The Likelihood of College Students Spreading the Virus Without Symptoms
Since this piece was published, it has come to light that people who have the virus but do not have symptoms are playing an even bigger role in the spread of the virus than we previously thought. It’s also coming to light that people who spread the disease without symptoms tend to be 20 years old and younger. That gives colleges and universities even more reason to consider closing, since college age students are likely to contribute to the spread in ways that make mitigation extremely difficult.

Are We Overreacting? Coronavirus in Context

Perhaps the fear about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) stems from uncertainty about the future. Or perhaps it stems from confusion about the virus itself. In late January, the number of coronavirus cases was just shy of 600; seven weeks later that number had ballooned to 110,000. Figures such as those can cause panic. But numbers without context or explanation can be meaningless. As psychologist Daniel Kahneman observes, “Human beings cannot comprehend very large or very small numbers.”

Relative to the world’s population, the number of cases is small. Proportionally, if every seat in Gillette Stadium was occupied for a Patriots game, only one of the spectators would have coronavirus. And that spectator would have a 3.4% chance of dying as a result.

But even that percentage, provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), requires context. Depending on the location, the mortality rate varies substantially. Jamie Ducharme and Elijah Wolfson of Time observe that countries with a greater number of tests administered have lower mortality rates. For example, the U.S. has a mortality rate of 5% but has only administered seven tests per million residents, while South Korea has administered 1,100 tests per million residents and registers a mortality rate of 0.6%. Additionally, compared to other once-novel coronaviruses, COVID-19 is more akin to flu.

“Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) killed about 10% of the people who got it, while Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was even deadlier,” Ducharme and Wolfson write. “At least so far, COVID-19 does seem to be more lethal than the seasonal flu, but it’s closer to that end of the spectrum.”

Often excluded from the live updates of the number of coronavirus cases is the number of those who have recovered. During an address on March 9, the WHO Director-General noted that of the 80,000 individuals in China who have tested positive for COVID-19, 70 percent have made a full recovery. The 110,000 number does not reflect the number of those currently infected with the virus but rather the total known number of those who have been infected.

Our perception of the risk informs our reaction. Incomprehension about numbers paves the way for overreaction. But does that matter? Is it better to be safe than sorry? Or should we balance preventing the spread of the disease with finding normalcy amidst the prevention?

In reaction to fears about the virus, shoppers in the UK are emptying out grocery stores despite government ministers saying there is “no need for anybody to stockpile.” Grocery chains have begun to limit the purchases of certain goods such as anti-bacterial gels, dry pasta, and canned vegetables. In the U.S. and Canada, shoppers are stockpiling toilet paper. In New York, people are stealing medical masks and other equipment from hospitals. Steven Taylor, a clinical psychologist who studies how people respond to pandemics, called the reaction “excessive.” “When people are told something dangerous is coming, but all you need to do is wash your hands, the action doesn’t seem proportionate to the threat,” he told CNN.

Morgan Housel of the Collaborative Fund echoes Taylor’s observation in his piece about the panic. “[Wash your hands is] too simple for some people to take seriously,” he writes. “The idea that complex problems can benefit from simple solutions isn’t intuitive.”

Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of Toronto, says that he is not scared of COVID-19. “What I am scared about is the loss of reason and wave of fear that has induced the masses of society into a spellbinding spiral of panic, stockpiling obscene quantities of anything that could fill a bomb shelter adequately in a post-apocalyptic world,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

The risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low. The risk of suffering the most grave consequence is even lower. But you may not know that when hit with a steady stream of numbers on the news and an increasing sense of panic amongst your neighbors. Perhaps the best thing to do is keep calm, heed the most up-to-date advice of your government, and wash your hands. If you have questions about the coronavirus, visit the WHO’s Q&A page.