Throughout this coronavirus pandemic, crisis folks have been hit with a barrage of mixed messages from health officials, politicians, and media types. Its no wonder people don't what the heck is going on. Your knowledge of the situation depends upon which network you watch or which so-called expert you've listened to.

A perfect example is a revelation that more than half of the Commonwealth's 18,000 hospital beds are empty. We were told that the hospitals would be overwhelmed and that remote facilities would be needed to handle the overflow. Isn't that why New Bedford rehabbed two former nursing homes and an overflow facility was established at UMass Dartmouth?

We were also told that there would be shortages of ventilators and masks and protective clothing for our healthcare workers. It seems as though that never happened, either.

One of the most disturbing mixed messages to emerge from all of this was advice from the experts for people to avoid hospital emergency rooms unless they were experiencing a medical emergency such as a heart attack. We were told that the emergency rooms would be too crowded with COVID-19 patients and that we would run the risk of being exposed to the virus if we went there.

"A 'growing number of empty beds' suggests people with serious medical conditions are avoiding hospitals out of fear," Greg Meyer, interim president of Newton-Wellesley Hospital told the Boston Herald.

Tufts Medical Center CEO Dr. Michael Apkon says the problem is real.

“We’ve seen children coming to the hospital after having several days of abdominal pain and coming with a ruptured appendix," he said. "We’ve seen patients with symptoms of stroke that are staying at home long beyond the point at which medications that would markedly improve their outcome could safely be delivered.”

This is the result when you have hyped up continuous news coverage of a crisis that features too many so-called experts with too much information that often contradicts what the other so-called experts have said.

People, shut off the TV, go forth into the sunshine, and rely on the good old common sense you were born with.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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