Keeping the public informed about impending danger is one of the important functions of government.

However, I think the federal Center for Disease Control, jumped the gun and went too far when it issued an alarm that helped create more panic than it did good.

"It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases nearly a week ago.

She urged people to prepare for business closings, school shutdowns and other interruptions in their daily lives. She also suggested everyone stock up with two weeks’ worth of groceries and supplies.

The warning came at a time when there were less than 60 reported cases of the deadly virus in the United States.

If the intent of the CDC alert was to get people’s attention, the agency was very successful.

Stock markets nose dived leading to trillions of dollars in lost value. People are canceling travel plans and vacations.

Shortages of some drugs are being reported.

I hope to be proven wrong, but I think the CDC alert could have been written in a much better way, a way that didn’t create fear and anxiety.

For example, it would have been just as effective to let people know that a very nasty virus was beginning to show up in a few patients and could spread.

The CDC should have pointed out that the vast majority of people infected by the virus will have mild to moderate symptoms.

And, while the mortality rate seems much higher than most viruses. catching it is not necessarily a death sentence.

Frankly, I thought the CDC warning was tantamount to hollering ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.

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Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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