(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
SPREAD OF VIRUS INEVITABLE: Center of Disease Control says virus will spread to the United States with larger infection numbers, but how dangerous is the coronavirus?
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention said the further growth of coronavirus cases in the United States is inevitable as it is rapidly evolving and spreading, but the message from officials remains mixed. Currently there are over 82K confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 worldwide, with over 78K of those confirmed cases in mainland China.
But what does that mean? Many people are asking questions about the fatality rate, the way the virus is spread and where in the country people have been exposed.
The immediate risk to the American public remains low, says Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “But as we have warned, that has the potential to change quickly.” The World Health Organization said that the declining rates of new cases in China mean the virus could be contained but that other countries need to do work in order to prevent a further outbreak.
As of Thursday of this week, 2,810 people have died from the virus, with 2.6K of those deaths coming in the Hubei providence of China where the virus outbreak originated. The US has just 60 confirmed cases and no deaths.
While the impact in the US has so far been small, the behavior of the virus and its spread outside of China has raised concerns with the CDC. There is no vaccine or medication to treat the virus and CDC doctors said prepare for “disruption of everyday life.”
“We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this is going to be bad,” CDC director of Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Nancy Messonnier said in a KREM2 article.
Disruptions could include school closures, childcare services could be stopped and meetings could be turning into teleconferences.
The doctor said evidence shows the virus is spreading to countries outside of China, with counties like Iran and Italy seeing double-digit numbers of deaths from the disease. Travel restrictions have limited the number of cases in the U.S. and there are no plans to ease the restrictions. President Trump has also asked Congress $2.5 billion to combat the coronavirus and announced that Vice President Mike Pence will oversee the response to the outbreak.
Some coronavirus patients have been brought to Spokane, since Sacred Heart Medical Center has a unit set up to handle viruses like the cornavirus. Gonzaga University cancelled their student abroad program in Italy amid the outbreak there that is now numbering over 520 people and has killed 14.
HOW DEADLY IS THE CORONAVIRUS?
The fatality rate for the cornavirus is something that needs to be put in perspective. The common flu, for example, infected 35 million people in US in 2018-2019 and killed 34,000 people for a fatality rate of .09 percent. The coronavirus has infected 82,550 people so far, resulting in 2,810 deaths which is about a three percent fatality rate.
If the coronavirus were to spread to millions, the number of dead could be much higher than the common flu. However, one has to consider that the deaths were in China when the government was still grappling with the outbreak from an unknown virus. Still a fatality rate 20 times more deadly than the common flu is nothing to ignore.
The death rate in the providence where the virus first occurred was 2.9 percent, whereas in other Chinese providences, the rate was .4 percent. Meaning quarantine and responses by the government are working.
Outside of China, only 64 people have died out of a total of 4,053 cases, which equals out to about a 1 percent fatality rate. While higher than the common flu, it’s much lower than the fatality rate experienced in the providence in China where the outbreak occured. Worldwide cases are also very limited at the moment.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Don’t panic, but stay informed. The number of cases outside of China is very small and in the U.S. the number of cases is just 60. While the CDC expects this number to go up and is asking people to be prepared and understand there will probably be disruptions to everyday life, this would include keeping kids out of school and having teleconferences instead of meetings.
WHO IS MOST VULNERABLE?
Elderly people are most vunerable with a death rate of about 14.8 percent for people over 80. Ages 70 to 79 saw a fatality rate of eight percent and people aged 60-69 saw a three percent fatality rate.
No deaths have been reported among children and for people under fifty, the fatality rate is less than a percentage point.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID CATCHING THE VIRUS?
There is no full-proof way to avoid the virus but there are good hygiene and health habits to reduce your risk.
-Wash your hands often.
-Cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow sleeve or tissue.
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
-Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like doorknobs and countertops.
-Get the flu shot. While it won’t prevent you from getting the coronavirus, you could develop severe pneumonia if you contract both the fly and coronavirus.
BE PREPARED TO STAY HOME
The CDC said that more cases of the coronavirus in the United States is inevitable. This could mean staying home might be the best course of action in some cases. Here are tips on how you could achieve this:
-Contact your employer about the company’s work-from-home and sick leave policy.
-Prepare for schools being closed.
-Large group gatherings like concerts, religous services and public events could be cancelled. Be sure to keep up with local announcements of those cancellations.
-Make sure you have a reasonable amount of groceries and other basic household necessities.
-Check with neighbors and loved ones on how they are feeling.
IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS?
If you have a high fever, weakness, lethargy, shortness of breath and underlying conditions, seek medical attention. The older you are, the more apt you should be to see medical attention.
Overall, stay informed and listen to public information released about the virus. Try and avoid unofficial information and sensational outbursts on social media by unofficial sources.