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Is COVID-19 a Black Swan Event?

If you can predict it--I say no.

In a recent online forum I read as people made the case that the current coronavirus pandemic is a Black Swan event. I believe if you can envision it, it is not a Black Swan!  There have been plenty of flu pandemic exercises and plans written for just this sort of event. To call it a Black Swan is an exaggeration.

From the link above there is this short definition, "First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme 'impact'. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable."

Way back in 2011 I wrote a column on this topic, see Black Swan Events Require Expanded Thinking, Planning.

If an asteroid impacts earth--that too is not a Black Swan event. We are a pocket marked planet already. 

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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