BALTIMORE—Stressing that the pandemic represented nothing more than mass hysteria dreamed up in the newspapers, 123-year-old Milton Hammond told reporters Thursday that he was not going to let the coronavirus stop him from hanging out with his friends. “Everyone is panicking about this thing, but as far as I can tell, this is just the periodicals blowing a little flu out of proportion,” said Hammond, who was born in the late 19th century, noting that after surviving the Great Baltimore Fire, 1918 Spanish Flu, and an extended period living in a Maryland-based Hooverville, he felt fine stepping out for a little drink and pinochle over at his buddy’s place. “They say I need to stay inside to protect my 100-year-old children and 75-year-old grandchildren, and I get that. But come on! We’re all going to be fine. Plus, I’ve already been on a ventilator for the past few decades, and it really isn’t a huge deal. Anyway, I promise you this: We’re going to look back on this in a couple years when I’m 125 and laugh.” At press time, the centenarian had died immediately after opening his door and being exposed to the outside world.