The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak
As the coronavirus continues to spread, fears of a global pandemic have become prominent. Countries across the world have begun to see a wave of effects stemming from the virus. In the United States, Harvard, Ohio State, Southern California, and other universities will not allow students to return to campus after spring break. Workplaces are implementing preventative measures such as allowing employees to work remotely and cancelling staff events.
Here are some recent figures surrounding COVID-19:
- The United States now has 1,000+ confirmed cases across 37 states and the District of Columbia
- 32 people have died in the US, and over 4,200 have died worldwide
- It is estimated that 115,000+ people in the world are infected
There are currently no vaccines or treatments for this coronavirus. The best way to prevent infection is avoid being exposed to the virus. Remember to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Avoid travelling if possible, and work from home if your employer allows you to.
Symptoms and Prevention
COVID-19 symptoms include minor to severe respiratory illness with:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
More developed cases of the virus have left patients with pneumonia in both lungs. Other health complications have stemmed from sickness caused by the coronavirus. Symptoms may appear within 2-14 days after exposure, but it is unknown how long the virus is transmittable after recovery.
If you believe you may be infected, stay home except to get medical care. You should isolate yourself from others, restrict activities outside of your home, and avoid public transportation and public areas. It is also important to limit contact with other people, pets, and animals. If possible, have another member of your household or family care for your pets. Call ahead before visiting your doctor, wear a face mask when leaving the house, and do not share personal items with anyone. As always, it is good practice to cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands frequently, and disinfect all “high-touch” surfaces.
The most at-risk demographic is people over the age of 60. Individuals with a history of auto-immune deficiencies or respiratory problems should also take extreme caution. People with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease are at an increased risk for complications from COVID-19.
The Stock Market and Global Impact
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied by 1,167 points on Tuesday after the single largest drop in history took place Monday; the Monday plummet was more than 2,000 points. The S&P also fell 6.63% and Nasdaq 7.29%. Fears of a global recession are extremely evident amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats Patty Murray and Gary Peters are urging President Trump to issue a national emergency. This would allow for nearly $40 billion in the Disaster Relief Fund to assist state and local governments with testing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. President Trump will soon meet with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss economic relief proposals for small businesses that are affected by the coronavirus.
Around the globe, countries are taking extreme reactionary measures to deter the spread of the virus. The Czech Republic has closed schools across the country. Ukraine announced a nationwide quarantine and banned gatherings of 200 or more people. The entire country of Italy is also quarantined, causing unrest in over 60 million people; riots have incited in Italian prisons due to concerns over the virus spreading. It is also predicted that Italy will face a severe recession as their lockdown measures increase. Spain has vowed to assist families as thousands of schools across the country are closed. Iran has one of the highest rates of infection with more than 9,000 infected and just over 350 deaths. In Dublin, Ireland, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade – which attracts over half a million people every year – has been cancelled.
The NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB have begun to cancel or postpone games. Some events will be played without spectators to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred established an internal task force to combat concerns over the virus. In the NBA, a memo sent last weekend asked the league to limit team traveling interactions to “essential individuals only.” One of the largest tennis tournaments in the world was cancelled this past Sunday due to the coronavirus; the BNPS Paribas Open was to be played in China.
Frequently Asked Questions (directly from CDC.gov)
Q: Why might someone blame or avoid individuals and groups (create stigma) because of COVID-19?
A: People in the U.S. may be worried or anxious about friends and relatives who are living in or visiting areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Some people are worried about the disease. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma, for example, towards Chinese or other Asian Americans or people who were in quarantine.
Stigma is discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place, or a nation. Stigma is associated with a lack of knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads, a need to blame someone, fears about disease and death, and gossip that spreads rumors and myths.
Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem.
Q: How can people help stop stigma related to COVID-19?
A: People can fight stigma and help, not hurt, others by providing social support. Counter stigma by learning and sharing facts. Communicating the facts that viruses do not target specific racial or ethnic groups and how COVID-19 actually spreads can help stop stigma.
Q: What is the source of the virus?
A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people. More information about the source and spread of COVID-19 is available on the Situation Summary: Source and Spread of the Virus.
Q: How does the virus spread?
A: This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.
Q: Can someone who has had COVID-19 spread the illness to others?
A: The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why CDC recommends that these patients be isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.
How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.
Current CDC guidance for when it is OK to release someone from isolation is made on a case by case basis and includes meeting all of the following requirements:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.
Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19 in the United States?
A: This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment may change daily. The latest updates are available on CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website.
Q: How can I help protect myself?
A: Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.
Q: What are the symptoms and complications that COVID-19 can cause?
A: Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever1, cough, and difficulty breathing. Read about COVID-19 Symptoms.
Q: Should I be tested for COVID-19?
A: Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.