Coronavirus pandemic goes viral in the age of social media, sparking anxiety

"Anxiety spreads faster than the virus," a professor told ABC News.

As President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency on Friday and with at least 1,700 confirmed cases in the United States alone, the novel coronavirus has gone viral in the age of social media -- sparking anxiety, fear and panic.

"Anxiety spreads faster than the virus," Catherine Belling, associate professor of medical education at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, told ABC News in an interview.

As talk of the virus continue to circulate on social media platforms, Twitter users are turning to humor to mask the fear. This includes drawing parallels between COVID-19 and "Contagion" -- a movie from 2011 directed by Steven Soderbergh -- that outlines a story similar to the coronavirus crisis the world is currently facing.

While the film is a hyperbolic disaster movie, with an invented virus far deadlier than the coronavirus, the world's reaction to the crisis is similar.

According to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, two-thirds of Americans are anxious that they or someone they know could get infected with the virus -- with increasing fears of being quarantined.

After "#QuarantineandChill" began trending on Twitter, some people started sharing binge-worthy movies to watch while isolated -- all of which were related to disaster storylines.

Some also made references to the movie "Jumanji."

"Whoever started this game at the beginning of 2020 please finish it quickly," one user wrote, with a photo of a Jumanji game board.

Other's described the chaos surrounding COVID-19 almost as if it's the plot of the next "dystopian movie."

One critic tweeted, "We’re literally living in a dystopian hellscape. A pandemic has broken out."

They added, "There’s no access to vaccines to cure them, and governments are refusing to listen to the needs of people, nor are they making treatment accessible."

People have been rushing to supermarkets to buy essentials in bulk and social media users have expressed their concerns with "panic buying" in reaction to the pandemic.

One critic of those who have stocked up on items said, "I am terrified of panicked masses hoarding supplies. Take what you need but nothing more."

"Panic buying leaves the elderly and immunocompromised even more at risk," they tweeted. "All actions have consequences."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends lathering, scrubbing and washing hands for at least 20 seconds -- or the equivalent of singing "Happy Birthday" twice.

Disco legend Gloria Gaynor also took to social media in response, singing her 1978 hit song "I Will Survive" on TikTok but with an added twist , using it as an opportunity to inform her followers how to wash their hands effectively amid the outbreak.

Gaynor wrote, "It only takes 20 seconds to SURVIVE!"

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