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There’s a lot people in the U.S. don’t know about the novel coronavirus. It might go away. If it does, it might come back. Medical researchers are starting to test vaccines and treatments, but they don’t know exactly when such things will be available. There are estimates, but those vary.

Messages from governors differ. Statistics and projections vary. Economic outcomes look ominous. So no one can be blamed for not knowing what to think, or going to one extreme or the other on what they believe the country or the rest of the world should do next.

Here’s one thing that is absolutely certain: COVID-19 is not a mass conspiracy or planned event to repress human beings in preparation for some sort of new world order, government suppression or overthrow. It’s a pandemic. The reason that no one has ever been through something like this is because it hasn’t happened on this scale since about 1918 with the inaccurately-named “Spanish Flu.”

Like every other unprecedented thing that has happened in recent years, the availability to reach masses of people and spread horrifically inaccurate information through social media is a cancer on the body of public health information and guidance. Discredited fringe “scientists” falsely present themselves as experts with a glimpse into what is really happening. People who, perhaps in any other given circumstance are rational, listen. And they post. They share. They retweet. And the cancer grows.

A lack of central, stable leadership doesn’t help. But people need to realize there is no incentive for public health officials to lie or attempt to cow the global populace by attempting to stem the tide of a deadly, easily spread virus. Sure, there have been attempts to cover up government wrongdoing since the beginning of government. But those efforts fall apart and come to light. National or global conspiracies don’t work in free nations. It would take way too many people, all of whom would somehow have to overcome human nature, to pull it off.

A lack of completely defined information that answers every single question about a new health crisis is not a conspiracy. Things will come to light — in fact, many things already have — about how officials in the U.S. and around the world mishandled this pandemic. Maybe they tried to cover their tracks in order to not take blame for something. Self-preservation is the motive in most of those cases. So there’s your conspiracy.

People need to continue to heed public health guidelines during this unprecedented time. Someone posting on YouTube from their bedroom or prep bunker does not have any special insight or answers. It’s not that easy. Don’t take the bait.

This editorial ran in The Charleston Gazette-Mail on May 8:

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