Economists have been worrying about a recession for some time now, but turn on the news and there's a much more immediate threat in the headlines: global pandemic. The coronavirus you keep hearing about is inspiring a lot of fear, which may have contributed to everything from crashing the stock market to spurring anti-Asian racism. With the world already feeling pretty unstable, a terrifying disease seems like it could push all of us over the edge.
It's not weird to be anxious about urgent and sometimes frothy news stories, especially when they're at odds with official government policy and staffing priorities. We may see manufacturing delays on consumer electronics like the iPhone, or travel restrictions in nations that have isolated and identified cases. That seems like a big deal. But the most important thing we can do is not to panic.
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Overall, says the World Health Organization, the best way you can stay safe from coronavirus is to stay vigilant about washing your hands. Antibacterial hand gel can do in a pinch, but really scrub with soap under hot water if you're able. If you're not feeling well, stay home (this goes out to the vast majority of us who still clock in even when we're ill). Generally those face masks you see can help a little, but you have to use them properly. If you're immunocompromised or have a medical condition that makes you particularly vulnerable, consult with your doctor.
Otherwise, get used to best practices around sanitation — the coronavirus isn't going to vanish overnight, but follow reliable sources (like the WHO) for realistic, fact-based reporting on what's really going on out there.