In a news conference yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo cited attempted to tamp down panic over the Coronovirus in New York State.”
“The anxiety here is outpacing the reality of the situation,” said Mr. Coumo. “Now, why do people get frightening in general? People get frightened when one of two things happen. Either I’m not receiving information or I don’t trust the information I’m receiving, or the information is very frightening. In this case, the information is not very frightening, the facts are not very frightening. This is a virus that spreads much like the flu virus. Roughly 80 percent of the people who get the Coronavirus will self-resolve, meaning they’ll have it, they’ll be walking around with it, they may have some symptoms, but they will self-resolve.”
New Yorkers are not panicked easily. But it’s clear that concern over the possible impact of the coronavirus on their personal well being is influencing consumer behavior. CNN reports that “some Lower Manhattan merchants say coronavirus fear has damaged their businesses more than the 2003 SARS outbreak, the 2009 H1N1 epidemic, and even the city’s September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.” Elsewhere across the state, panic buying of staples such as toilet paper and foodstuffs has been anecdotally reported.
New York, which depends on tourism, travel, and unfettered infra-regional movement for its economic well-being, may well suffer should unwarranted fear and anxiety over exposure to the virus “go viral.” The best way to combat this is through transparency, straight talk, and realistic expectations. As Mr. Cuomo stated, “I know we’re all New Yorkers, and I know we tend to get anxious, and I also know that people have received mixed messages on this, and I think that’s part of the problem. Federal government says one thing, then you have this political debate. This one says it’s underestimated, this one says it’s overestimated. I think that has caused an uncertainty where people don’t know what to believe. Just the facts ma’am, as they used to say. Just give me the facts. Let me understand what I’m dealing with and make an intelligent decision, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”