A high-ranking Salvation Army official in Australia is getting criticism for telling his employees that the coronavirus pandemic is a product of mass hysteria and that they’ll all be fine if they just take their vitamins, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Dr. Graeme White is the national director of the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus agency, which helps people in vulnerable populations find jobs. However, workplaces around Australia and the rest of the world — including the United States — are shuttered, as governments attempt to slowdown the coronavirus’ rate of infection. Elsewhere, employees who can work remotely have been asked to do so.
White, however, is having none of it.
In an email he sent to his employees, obtained by the Sydney newspaper, he said that the panic about the pandemic is a much bigger deal than the pandemic itself.
“In general, the hysteria and panic that surrounds this virus outbreak substantially exceeds the threat,” he wrote.
What’s more, he suggested that his employees simply need to take their vitamins.
“I believe that if you are not in a higher risk category and you are keeping up with vitamins and supplements your risk of serious illness is minimal,” he continued.
Putting aside the matter of vitamins and supplements, White is correct in that the virus poses little real danger to healthy adults who are of an age to be in the workforce, as the virus more severely affects the elderly and people with underlying health conditions. The majority of healthy adults who aren’t elderly who contract the virus have either no symptoms or mild symptoms.
However, the worldwide quarantine isn’t in effect to protect the healthy from the virus, but rather, to protect the sick. In quarantining as much of the population as possible, the goal of health officials is to not only stop the spread, but to prevent healthy people from inadvertently infecting their elderly and/or sick relatives.
Reached by the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr. White doubled down, insisting that the issue is overblown. He also said that — in this time of massive layoffs — his employees need to keep up their work of helping the most vulnerable find employment.
One employee, who asked not to be named, said that they and their colleagues have been told to proceed with “business as usual,” even to the point of meeting with clients face-to-face instead of over the phone.
“The expectation is to come to work every day and service clients face to face and put ourselves at risk,” the employee said.