Anyone who knows what an exponential function is does not have a good stand in Germany at the moment. He is denigrated as a warning, panic inciter or fear-maker just because he can count. Today has proven it again: The number of new infections has suddenly reached unprecedented heights. More than 11,000 new infections with Sars-CoV-2 – so many have never been detected in one day since the beginning of the pandemic.
Smart people have been pointing out for weeks that this is exactly where development is headed. Like Karl Lauterbach (SPD), who was vigorously attacked by his fellow participants in a panel discussion at the end of September when he calculated 7500 new infections per day for the coming weeks (and was therefore completely correct). “That’s not a warning. It’s scaremongering!”, The actor Dieter Hallervorden threw at him, “people need hope!” And the President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, said this week that one should “not scare people on a tour”.
Undoubtedly, fear is an extremely uncomfortable feeling – and usually a bad advisor. In this respect, it is true that politicians and epidemiologists shouldn’t scare people. But there is a subtle difference between being afraid and informing. So if the development of the Sars-CoV-2 infections is currently extremely unpleasant, almost frightening, then you cannot put this in reassuring words. What is threatening for a society from a medical, economic and educational point of view, has to be named. Everything else may be more pleasant. It is not correct.
Of course, you can and should observe the essential rules of problem and risk communication. A constantly raised index finger is counterproductive. Continuous pressure dulls even those people who are receptive to warnings. And people who are already overwhelmed with the current situation are lost even more to the lateral thinkers who say the virus is not that bad after all; Only the governments are bad with their claim to power and their measures.
So it’s important to hit the right note – and adjust the thrust. An essential strategy must be to convince people with factual arguments. Present facts to you and soberly calculate the probable scenarios. One can appeal to solidarity with the elderly. But it is just as important to show what the foreseeable development will mean for everyone’s life.
Directed at the boys, this means telling them again and again: You too can get sick and suffer late-night damage – and show them examples of this. And when the number of infections increases so much that more drastic measures are necessary, including shop and restaurant closings, this will also affect the younger generation. Your training opportunities, your financial opportunities, your freedom.
But it is just as important to present solutions. After all, people are not helpless. Everyone can do something about the virus – every new day and through such simple things as keeping their distance and doing without. Do not be afraid, but be careful, so the message must be. Do it for the elderly and for yourself. It is not smart who is celebrating parties now. Smart is the one who knows the exponential function and how to wear a mask properly.
In any case, one thing must not happen under any circumstances: that those responsible get scared themselves – namely, fear of pointing out the consequences of a further spread of the virus.