AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger

Whether you're someone who is super on top of your coronavirus coverage — stocking up on sanitary products and hyper-attuned to your health — or someone who's chalking coronavirus up to media hysteria and believes that this too shall pass, the topic of coronavirus is probably a conversation you're having.

In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 10,442 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 150 individuals have died as of Thursday March 19th. Certainly, coronavirus is increasingly on people's radar.

But you should be careful about the way you talk about coronavirus, especially in the workplace. Here are five things you absolutely shouldn't say at work during this coronavirus outbreak.

1. "I probably have coronavirus — LOL!"

In times like these, many people turn to humor to make light of complicated situations and cope with their conflicting emotions. While it may be fine to joke with your friends, you don't want to be making jokes about having coronavirus in the office.

Coronavirus is a serious outbreak that's concerning many people — and adding to others' anxieties has no place in the office where people need clear minds to work well. Besides, causing confusion and panic is far from professional.

2. "You're seriously overreacting about coronavirus..."

It's not your place to tell others how they should be reacting to the news of coronavirus. You never know what other invisible illnesses people may be battling that have weakened their immune systems, making them more susceptible to contracting viruses like this one. And you never know what other outbreaks in the past may have affected them or their loved ones. 

3. "YOU SHOULD BE FREAKING OUT ABOUT CORONAVIRUS!"

Again, you and your colleagues are all entitled to your own opinions. But spreading panic in the office isn't going to help anyone. While you may want to encourage your colleagues to practice healthy habits like washing their hands and disinfecting their workspaces, fear mongering and instilling anxiety in the workplace won't safely get us anywhere.

4. "[Colleague] is Asian, so..."

However this sentence ends, don't start it in the first place. With the spread of coronavirus, which kicked off in China, there's also been the spread of racism and xenophobia. It is simply unacceptable to discriminate against colleagues because of their background (or for any other reason), regardless of where they come from. We're all in this together, and we all need to follow the same health safety protocols to mitigate our own risks of contracting coronavirus.

5. "Coronavirus has already taken X lives in Y countries, and the rate is increasing by Z percent..."

It's easy to throw around numbers and statistics, but if you don't actually know what you're talking about — and most people don't because, frankly, health officials aren't even quite sure exactly how pervasive this virus is — it's best to not say anything at all.

While it's certainly OK to share news you've heard about coronavirus, be sure to credit your sources so others can do their own research. Also do your best to dig around various sources as opposed to believing everything you read from just one. The last thing we all need with the spread of coronavirus is the spread of lies surrounding it.

Browse health conversations on FGB. 

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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