I’m going out on a limb here and assuming you just haven’t heard enough about the COVID-19 virus, more commonly referred to as Coronavirus. There are only 30 articles on this site alone that mention it. While there has been legitimate concern about the spread of the virus, the opinion here at the Cluttered Desk is that the reaction by the public thus far greatly exceeds the overall threat to mankind. 

But maybe that is just me.

Store shelves have been emptied of various protective items such as face masks, soap and hand sanitizer. Where these products are available, price gouging is all the rage. A 34 oz bottle of Equate brand hand sanitizer available on Amazon is currently going for $60 a bottle. 

I must admit that I have a bit of a skeptical streak whenever it comes to the latest thing that is going to kill us all. Most of the contagious virus concerns over the years (Swine, SARS, Bird flu, etc.), have not in the end lived up to the hype that preceded them. Serious, yes. Important to be concerned about, yes. But did they end up doing all the damage once predicted? No. Of all the virus scares over the years, only Ebola was the one that proved to be fatal for most that were infected by it. The end result is not yet known, but it is possible that Coronavirus is going to be another one in a fairly long list of new and frightening illnesses that will harm some, but not be the cataclysmic event that the overhyped reaction would indicate people believe it to be.

So, with that blissfully ignorant basis as an ingrained part of my world view, I boarded a plane to Boston yesterday to attend the WCRI Annual Conference. It was the beginning of an education for me, one where I would start to see the impact this issue is going to have on our industry over the short term. 

I was a bit surprised to find the flight, out of Sarasota Florida at the very peak of our tourist season, to only be about 1/3rd full. Shortly after I arrived in Boston, I received a couple emails from fellow Kids’ Chance of Florida board members, indicating their companies had just issued a ban on all non-essential travel through the end of April. They will not be able to attend a conference scheduled at the end of that month. I attended a WCRI pre-conference event produced by the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Comp. Talking to attendees there, I learned of other travel bans being hastily placed by other large companies in the workers’ compensation industry. Most jarring of all, it seems many of the scheduled attendees for the pre-conference cancelled, leaving a large room that should have been full with only about 50% of the seats occupied. 

It was no surprise that the conversations in the room centered around COVID-19. Many of us speculated on the impact this situation will have on upcoming conferences around the country. It is a shame, because these gatherings can be important. The education and business networking they offer is an integral part of the way we do business. It should also be mentioned that it takes a great deal of work and effort to produce events such as these, and it is a shame to see them potentially torpedoed by a virus that may or may not be signaling end of days for all mankind.

WCRI is expecting over 400 people this morning for the start of their annual conference. It is my sincere hope that they will not see any drop in attendance over this issue. One thing is certain; if they do see one, they will not be alone. The threat seems to be pervading our risk averse industry with a fairly consistent result.

As for me, I hope common sense will hold the day. Wash your hands often and avoid touching your nose and mouth when you have been out in public places. You should probably avoid touching other people’s noses and mouths as well. Take Zinc supplements and Vitamin C. Believe it or not, we can be cautious and reasonable, all at the same time. 

Life is going to continue, and this too shall pass. Unless, of course, it doesn’t, and I’m just too stupid to see it.  


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