My friend asked me, “Friends!! Are you worried about coronavirus at all?” Here’s my current response:
~Although I will be adopting “common-sense” protective habits~, I will practice social distancing and other “common-sense” habits when I don’t lose too much by adopting the habit; this includes remote work. I’m mainly not worried about my own safety because fatality rates seem to be low for my age range. I’ll especially avoid being in contact with the elderly and immunocompromised to reduce risk of transmitting to them.**
The Chinese CDC-reported fatality rate for my age range is [0.2%, i.e. 1 in 500 chance of dying if I get it (maybe one could consider that too high), with this being a potential overestimate if it’s true that early case fatality rate is overstated due to better recording of deaths from coronavirus than coronavirus cases themselves](Chinese CDC: https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-death-age-older-people-higher-risk-2020-2). Edit 3/7: I agree with [Dr. Jeremy Faust](https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2020/03/07/how-vulnerable-is-the-average-person-to-the-coronavirus.cnn) that more of the focus should be to help those most vulnerable, i.e. the elderly and immunosuppressed. For a non-elderly/non-immunosuppressed person, this may mean not hoarding supplies, and not becoming a source of transmission (e.g. by following self-protective habits that don’t hoard and by self-quarantining if infected), which are both cases of worrying about the much higher risk to someone else than the much lower risk to oneself. :End edit.
By “common-sense” protective habits, I mean things like the following, where I or things I care about (e.g. environmental values) don’t seem to lose much by adopting the habit, and the main thing keeping me from adoption, especially _consistent_ adoption, is inertia:
- Biking to places instead of taking crowded subways (which I mostly already do) (Edit 3/9: however, if my only mode of transport were a subway and I wanted to make that trip, I’d do it without worrying, because biking is mainly for exercise and speed of travel in Boston :End edit),
- Avoiding non-essential flight or travel (which I mostly already do, because I dislike being on planes anyway and for environmental reasons),
- Doing my PhD work around 1-2 people in a relatively uncrowded office space instead of around 10-20 people in more crowded office space (which for me gets the best of both worlds of keeping each other productive and non-loneliness, plus reduce transmission risk; I mostly already do this), and
- Continuing to eat healthy, sleep well and stay low-stress to keep my immune system healthy (which I mostly already do).
- [“And self-protective activities include all the hygiene measures that were mentioned earlier [washing hands, not touching one’s face, avoiding public places], includes getting up-to-date on vaccinations to prevent needs for contact with the health care system. It includes, if you smoke, quitting smoking, because you need your lung function… It includes staying home from work to protect others if you’re sick. It includes making that possible if you’re a business owner.”](https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/the-coronavirus-outbreak/).
[“These are all individually self-improving acts that will reduce one’s own risk. And this is a happy case where every one of those things also has benefits to the community. Slowing the epidemic is what we have to do if we can’t stop it. And all of those measures, small though some of them may be, help to slow the epidemic.”](https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/the-coronavirus-outbreak/)
- I understand that fatality rates are highly uncertain given that they’re calculated as “num deaths attributed to coronavirus” / “num cases of coronavirus,” [both of which are underestimated numbers right now due to lack of testing](https://theforum.sph.harvard.edu/events/the-coronavirus-outbreak/). However, I feel the low fatality rate for my age groups, even with error bars, makes me not worry about my own safety.