Local journalist sends tips from China


By Jonathan Betz

I thought I’d share some pointers I’ve learned about the coronavirus after dealing with it for months in China. 

I encourage you to start preparing — not for the virus itself, necessarily. But for the disruptions it may cause.

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Betz

This moves fast. There will probably be COVID-19 cases in your community. Within a week or two, the virus reached nearly every corner of China. The symptoms are usually mild. So, lots of people are likely walking around, not realizing they’re sick. We’re probably seeing a surge of cases now, because more people are simply getting tested. 

No more fun. Have something planned in the next month or two? Prepare for cancellations. Concerts, games, marathons, parades (hello, St. Patrick’s Day), rallies, sporting events, etc. I think there’s a good chance they’ll be postponed or called off. 

Embrace becoming a homebody. If you have kids in school or daycare, start thinking of a Plan B. Be prepared for schools and/or offices to close. You — or your kids — may be spending a lot of time at home. And you may notice a lot of other people stop leaving the house.

International travel. If you have a trip coming up, prepare for disappointment. I worry countries will soon start to impose travel bans/restrictions on Americans. Italians, South Koreans and the Chinese already face that reality. Many nations bar them outright or require them to quarantine for two weeks after arrival. (That includes cities where you may just have a transfer!)

COVID vs flu. Yes, the seasonal flu kills millions. This has killed thousands, so far. But we have vaccines for the flu. We understand the flu. We don’t fully understand this. The flu kills 0.1 percent of people who become infected. This kills about 2 percent, and it appears to be more contagious. 

For perspective, though, Ebola kills 50 percent of infected patients.

The danger. For most people, this disease is not a big deal. But if you’re older than 65, or have health problems (like diabetes) or smoke, you should probably be extra careful. This virus has killed young, healthy doctors in China. However, most people do recover.

The masks. Most experts seem to think you don’t need them. They’re best if you’re already sick; they keep your germs in. Still, if you’re extra nervous (and can find them), look for masks with N95 on them. Those form a better seal and filter most of the air.

I pray none of you are affected by this virus. These are simply my observations. Overall, I really don’t think it’s worth panicking over. Wash your hands. Be smart. And be prepared.

Jonathan Betz is a Richardson-raised, EMMY Award-winning journalist and anchorman for China Global Television Network (CGTN). Since 2017, Betz has lived in China and currently works in Beijing hosting the evening news programs for CGTN.

Jonathan Betz is back in the make-up chair and work after a 14-day quarantine in Beijing. He was not infected or sick in any way, but was still forced to quarantine.