By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Sometimes we forget what things used to be like. For example individuals who are now 24 years of age or younger have grown up with multiple 24-hour TV news stations.

Fox News and MSNBC both premiered in 1996. They followed the pioneer CNN that premiered in 1980.

Prior to those stations coming into existence, TV news was relatively sparse. There were daily news shows in the evening. There were daily news shows after primetime TV finished for the evening. There were occasional news specials. Meet the Press and 60 Minutes fell into that category.

Medical topics were sometimes covered in depth. However, most of the time, there were few medical news topics.

You were liable to get more medical news from Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey or Marcus Welby, MD.

That all changed when we developed 24-hour news channels. They needed to do something to keep their viewers interest. Many of them hired medical consultants to discuss various topics of interest.

The good news is that even those consultants only made occasional visits. That meant that there was about the right amount of time devoted to medical topics.

People got information on an intermittent basis.

Things have changed recently. We are in the midst of a pandemic. The biggest thing in the news these days is a medical topic. That means that 24-hour TV news stations have to devote most of their time to medical topics. The problem is that there is really only one medical topic to be discussed.

That is the COVID-19 infection.

In order to fill that 24-hour period of time, each and every piece of information about the infection is dissected. There may be stories involving the science of the illness. There may be human interest stories. There may be stories about medical care.

However, the main issue is that new people are getting infected every day. Some of them are dying. All the rest of the information is just filler to get people to watch their station.

In the meantime people are confined to their homes. They often have little to do other than turn on the TV. Unfortunately all that does is remind them of why they are stuck at home.

From a mental health standpoint, there is one thing that is a great idea to ride out this crisis. That is to turn off the TV.

There is no reason to hear about the same topics over and over. We need to be looking at other things to keep our minds healthy.

Going back to the days before 24-hour news stations makes a lot of sense. Checking out what is going on in the local news once or twice daily is sufficient for the upkeep of our mental health.

Coronavirus update

The rate of new U.S. cases doubling has continued to fall from the previous high of every 48 hours. It doubled in 5 days from March 29 to April 3. Then it doubled in 9 days from April 3 to April 12. That is a good trend.

From April 6 through April 13, there were about 30,000 new U.S. cases per day. The next step will be to see if that number starts falling.

The new U.S. cases were only 27,000 from April 12 to April 13, but that was only one day.