Why an infectious disease expert says fearing the coronavirus will only help it spread

SPOKANE, Wash. — The White House requested $1.25 billion on emergency funding to address the coronavirus on Tuesday. 

The request comes as coronavirus cases surge around the world, though the cases remain low in the United States. 

Of the 14 confirmed cases, four are currently being treated at Spokane’s Sacred Heart. 

One assistant professor at Whitworth University says we shouldn’t let panic overtake us. 

“We all live in a global neighborhood and we all have permeable bodily membranes and we can all get sick,” said Kari Nixon. 

Nixon examines infectious diseases at Whitworth University from the medical humanities perspective. 

“The way we talk about public health issues, in fact, impacts the way the populous responds to things,” said Nixon. 

She says we’re lucky to not deal with infectious diseases at rates people did 150 years ago, but we shouldn’t treat infections like the coronavirus as if they shouldn’t cross borders. 

“By insisting that a disease is staying over here we, in fact, allow it to spread,” said Nixon. 

Back in the 80s, HIV was blamed on the homosexual population. Way back in the 1800s, Syphilis was linked to sex workers. 

Assumptions in both epidemiological cases proved to be wrong. 

Though fear is natural, Nixon says focusing on fear, rather than facts, helped the spread of those diseases. 

“If we take a step back, particularly when we’re not in moments of crisis, we can prepare ourselves for reacting a bit differently,” said Nixon.