The date is December 31, 2019 and the coronavirus (COVID19) was identified at a local wet market in Wuhan, China. Wuhan is home to over 11 million people making it the one of the worst spots for the virus to start. Silently and undetected, the virus crept around China infecting thousands of people with flu-like symptoms and horrible respiratory and pneumonia effects. Being like the flu, the virus spreads very easily if not faster than influenza. The date is now January 20, 2020 and a cruise ship named the “Diamond Princess” docks on the coast of Japan. Multiple passengers are reporting flu like symptoms and a mandatory quarantine was held on the ship to ensure the virus was contained. The events that happened next shaped the coronavirus into what it is today. At the time, facts about the coronavirus were not yet confirmed and passengers were able to leave after a two week period of quarantine. Their method of travel after the quarantine was through commercial airlines. The incubation period for the virus is around 3-4 weeks meaning the virus can still be contagious within that 3-4 week period. With the average spread of the coronavirus being 3-4 people per every infected person, the coronavirus epidemic was born. On February 12, 2020, the United States reported its first death meaning the coronavirus was here to stay in the United States. These statistics may seem striking, but it’s important to look over the facts behind everything instead of acting irrational and panicking.
To start with, the coronavirus is similar to the flu just with a higher mortality rate. Information from KWQC, a news outlet in Wisconsin, quoted the CDC by saying that the mortality rate of the virus is around 2%, meaning that the whole population will not succumb to the virus. However, this is not entirely good news because the Spanish Flu had a similar fatality rate with far more devastating effects than early days of the Coronavirus. This silent killer, known as the Spanish Flu, infected 500 million people while killing nearly 50 million in its duration throughout the world. It is important to take into account the historical aspect and lack of technology that was around during the time when the Spanish Flu was running rampant. Now, doctors are devoted in coming up with vaccines and treating those with severe cases. In addition, the mortality rate per age group varies. For example, 10-19 year olds have 0.1% fatality rate (which is lower than the flu) whereas people over 80+ have a 14.8% fatality rate. While this is not ideal for the elderly, it shows that survival is within reach. Another piece of information to be aware of is the amount of people that die from the flu compared to casualties caused by the coronavirus. Currently in America, mass panic is already flooding the streets and popular news outlets. According to the President of the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO), the flu kills on average “27,000 to 70,000 people per year in the United States”. As of now in the United States, the coronavirus has affected “523 people with around 25 deaths”. While the virus is likely to develop exponentially throughout the upcoming months, worldwide panic may not be the most reasonable way to handle this situation.
Arguably, the United States has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This is clearly shown when fighting the novel coronavirus. In other countries such as China, hospitals had to be constructed because of the overpopulation in Wuhan. On the other hand, in the United States hospitals are open and available for treatment as people contract the virus. With new information coming out daily about death rates, United States’ hospitals can manage their patients and only accept severely ill patients. According to an article from The Washington Post, “The fatality rate of the virus is expected to be in the range of 0.1 to 1 percent.” These numbers are nowhere near other countries. Italy (the epicenter of the virus in Europe) reports that death rates are reaching upwards of 3-4 percent. On top of this, other reports say that the virus results are being skewed by the first week due to the lack of preparation by the Chinese government. In the same article, the World Health Organization, Chinese reporters, and six United States reporters announced that: “People who became sick in the first 10 days of January experienced a 17.3 percent death rate, but among people developing symptoms after Feb. 1, the fatality rate has been 0.7 percent”. This means that about 1 in every 1,500 people will pass from the virus. This information could mean one of two things: The virus is slowing down and weakening as time goes on, or the United States and other countries health care systems are evolving and conquering the virus. These possible outcomes are promising in the sense that the world can collectively fight off the novel coronavirus.
In the meantime, it is still important to take the proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. To combat this, coronavirus testing just became available at the local level . According to an article written by Brett Samuels and Jessie Hellmann from The Hill, states that “Two point one million tests will be shipped by Monday to commercial labs”. These tests would then “translate to roughly 850,000 patients who could be tested”. This is crucial in containing the virus and preventing further cases from infecting people. As time progresses, the limit for tests in the United States will not be 850,000 as more test kits are being created by the CDC and other third party manufacturers, which can drastically limit the spread of the virus.
In the end, it is highly unlikely that the coronavirus will kill off the entire population. However, during times like this, people must come together, stay calm, accept any closures, and follow quarantine procedures.