'You’re going to see the numbers go sky high': Why everyone is suddenly realizing how serious the coronavirus threat truly is

'You’re going to see the numbers go sky high': Why everyone is suddenly realizing how serious the coronavirus threat truly is
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Image via Pat Arnow / Flickr.

This week, coronavirus-related worries went from bad to worse in the United States and many other countries. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic, the death toll soared in Italy (passing 1,000 as of Friday morning, according to John Hopkins University in Baltimore), President Donald Trump banned residents of 26 European countries from entering the United States, and large gatherings were canceled in the U.S. from coast to coast.

Ed Pilkington, in an article published Friday morning in The Guardian, explained that if Americans weren’t already nervous about coronavirus, this week’s headlines gave them a jolting wake-up call.

Pilkington opens his article by quoting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: during a Wednesday night appearance on CNN, Cuomo told his brother, host Chris Cuomo, that coronavirus is “much more prevalent than we know. You’re going to see the numbers go sky high, and if the American people aren’t ready for it, we are going to have a problem.”

When Andrew Cuomo was speaking, Pilkington recalls, Chris Cuomo interrupted him to deliver breaking news: because of coronavirus, “the NBA has just suspended its season.”

During the Cuomo brothers’ conversation, Pilkington explains, the “magnitude of the coronavirus threat to America…. came into blazing view.” And the realization of how deadly coronavirus has become, the Guardian journalist notes, is asserting itself in many different ways.

For example, Pilkington points out, “Some of the best-known restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown, which barely three weeks ago had lines of diners stretching around the block, are now virtually empty.”

On top of that, Broadway plays are shut down. But New York City, Pilkington stresses, is hardly the only place in the U.S. where people are getting a jolt of reality.

“By the end of Thursday,” Pilkington notes, “the rush to batten down the hatches was so intense it seemed that all of America — the country founded upon visions of openness and freedom —  was closing down.”

The “shutdown” of the U.S., he adds, is reflected in everything from the cancelation of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas to Disneyland temporarily closing down in Southern California to numerous concerts, political rallies and sports events being canceled.

“There was something about the bit-by-bit nature of America’s shutdown, with states acting independently of each other and institutions making their own seemingly disconnected decisions, that only heightened the jitters sweeping the country,” Pilkington explains.

Pilkington concludes his article with some coronavirus-related advice from professional runner Rebecca Mehra: “I know it’s a time of hysteria and nerves, but offer help to anyone you can.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.