Mar 12, 2020 - Economy

Stock market plunge helps amplify WHO's message on gravity of coronavirus

A man in the stock exchange.

Photo: BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization finally declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus."

The other side: At a time like this, the WHO has to also be worried about unreasonable lack of fear. Fear, after all, is a very useful social distancing mechanism.

Between the lines: The WHO's announcement on Twitter was hardly sober and contained. It has two siren emoji, abundant ALL CAPS and a glaring red-on-blue color scheme.

The message: Up until now, we've been worried that you might panic. Now, we're worried that you're not panicking enough.

My thought bubble: The WHO has an ally in the stock market. The plunge in stock prices is helping many Americans understand the gravity of the current situation.

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