By now, everyone has heard about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and its impact on world health. While the news media is filled with sensational stories designed to grab your attention, the virus is real and you should take appropriate precautions based on the best data out there, including frequent, effective hand-washing, staying home if you’re sick, avoiding close contact with others, and covering your mouth if you cough or sneeze, among others. Visit the CDC website (or WHO) for the most up-to-date information.
But COVID-19 isn’t the only virus that’s spreading. The anxiety “virus” is also spreading quickly through a phenomenon known as social contagion. We hear about worst case scenarios in the media, see the impact on the stock market, and discuss what could happen with family, friends, and coworkers. This extreme level of uncertainty gets passed from person to person at the speed of sound, driving up anxiety to panic levels.