By Amy Babcock
As the nation reels in the wake of this new COVID 19 pandemic, fear has become the driving force behind individual action.
Countries around the world are responding with an overabundance of caution due to this upper respiratory virus that was saw its first cases hit in China. The virus itself is named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been named Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID 19). According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in most people and some animals. On rare occasions, these viruses can infect humans who consume these animals, as is suspected to have happened with this new version of the virus.
The reality of this virus is that it presents as very mild in most cases, with only 16% becoming seriously ill, and a 1% fatality rate. Those at risk are the same as those at risk from the annual flu: elderly, children under 2 years of age, or anyone with an immunodeficiency such as HIV, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or patients undergoing chemotherapy. For the rest of us, we can expect it to present much like a regular chest cold. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, and usually hit within 14 days of initial exposure.
But knowing these facts hasn’t done much to ease the panic that is ensuing. People are hitting the stores as if it were a Black Friday sale during a zombie apocalypse, buying all the toilet paper, diaper wipes, aerosol sprays such as Lysol and Febreze, as well as any over the counter medicines they can get their hands on. Indeed, if you venture into any store right now, you will find largely empty shelves.
Some of the products being bought are perishable foods, with eggs, chicken, and ground beef the chief among these. If the public is so concerned with supplying themselves in case of a total nationwide shut down of all things, they are not planning correctly. If the country were to shut down to the degree that they are panicking about, utilities such as gas, water, and electric would also cease to function. This would render that perishable food useless in a matter of days.
And while it’s true that many community activities have been cancelled, such as schools, concerts, and other gatherings that involve crowds, trucking routes that deliver to stores haven’t stopped and no one has been confined to their houses. This means that there will be more supplies coming as per their regular delivery schedule and people will be able to go out and buy what they need.
Still, this is either not largely known by the populace, or is being ignored. And the government seems to be taking matters to the extreme as well. Just the other day, the President, along with several others, gave a speech about all the efforts being taken at this time. During this speech, the President touted about having bought oil to fortify our supply, as if this virus was going to shut down drilling, refining, and overall production of oil-based products, such as gasoline.
While declaring a national emergency from one side, Trump initially declined to be tested for the virus even though he’d recently met with the President of Brazil, who was later confirmed to test positive for the virus. He also went as far as to state that only those that fall within the high-risk group should have the testing done. This seems to contradict our ability to track the virus with any validity. One could assume that this information will later be used to downplay how fast or how far the virus has truly spread, which will give leave for the President to then brag how well America contained this pandemic. No doubt the same bragging will occur regarding the economy, given how much product is being bought out of panic.
Still, it is nice that the government is giving breaks to businesses that suffer loses due to employees who call out sick with the virus and extending paid sick leave to the same. If only they did the same for the flu epidemic which killed an estimated 22,000-55,000 and hospitalized another 370,000-670,000, according to the CDC.
So, what is the real danger? The panic of the people. Racism against Asian-Americans is on the rise, and fighting in stores for supplies is, as well. While it’s true that the internet has all information at our fingertips, it’s important to not believe everything you read on social media.
Here are the facts:
The Coronavirus has been around since the 1960s. Like the flu, it is a virus that can mutate allowing people to become infected with different strains. As with any virus, the main people at risk are the very old and very young, individuals who are immunocompromised, or those suffering certain other ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or are undergoing chemotherapy. Most people will have few to no symptoms, and of those who are infected, most will get better within 10 days of their first symptoms.
These symptoms include:
Tightness in the chest or difficulty breathing
The best defence against this illness is to maintain basic hygiene. Wash your hands for 20 seconds each time. Do not use antibacterial soaps. This is a virus. These soaps will only kill the good bacteria on your hands that may otherwise have prevented you from contracting the virus in the first place. If you are out in public, do not touch your face until you’ve washed your hands. If you are unable to wash your hands in public, you can use hand-sanitizer in a pinch, but again, this will kill the good bacteria on your hands.
This disease is completely preventable if we all just WASH OUR HANDS.