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The Wuhan coronavirus has spread to eight countries, but dark memes about the outbreak are spreading even faster.
People are making jokes about the virus that has infected over 900 people and killed 17 people. The virus, which started in Wuhan, China, first appeared in mid-December. Although a coronavirus is a general name for an illness found in animals that’s not typically deadly to humans, the Wuhan strain (aka 2019-nCoV) is defying those characteristics.
Despite the troubling context, people are making memes of the virus primarily due to its’ name.
“I keep hearing about Coronavirus and all I keep imagining is this,” @skyezera tweeted along with an animated image of a virus particle with corona bottles sticking out of it.
“Me contributing my science skills to the search for a Coronavirus cure,” @KyleSmells added with a picture of a test tube a lime.
And some can’t help but think the virus sounds like something a frat brother might catch.
“1st case of Coronavirus in Ireland,” @FrancoisPittion tweeted along with a photo of a man posing with a corona beer case on his head.
Others are looking past the virus’ name for meme content.
As with any viral epidemic, widespread fear is resulting in conspiracy theories. One Reddit user said that for the past four centuries, there has been a plague on the 20th year.
“It’s our year *1720* plague *1820* plague *1920* plague *2020* China coronavirus claims 4th victim as more screenings added,” @anonymaus7 posted with an image of Morty wearing a mask worn by medieval doctors.
Another Twitter user noticed how 2020 is not off the best start worldwide.
“Me: 2020 is going to be a good year! First three weeks of 2020: Australia is on fire, increased US-Iran tensions, 100 seconds to midnight, #coronavirus, civil war in Libya-” @McDieGB tweeted.
And looking ahead, one person joked that years from now when the virus has (hopefully) fizzled out, hype beasts with fashion masks will be the last remaining survivors.
If you’re going to survive a deadly epidemic, you might as well look lit while doing it.
Libby Cohen is a third-year University of Texas student originally from New Jersey. She has written for ORANGE Magazine, the Daily Texan, and most recently interned for 1010 WINS in NYC. She's now back in Austin writing for the Texas Standard and the Daily Dot.