What Is The Coronavirus (aka COVID-19)?
So what, exactly, is the Coronavirus? First and foremost, no, it has nothing to do with Corona beer (yes, people actually thought this was a thing. It’s not).
The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a betacoronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It’s a derivative of the Coronavirus family, (a large family of viruses found mainly in animals, e.g. camels, cattle, cats, and bats). Some of the more commonly known coronaviruses are comprised of MERS-CoV & SARS-CoV.
Initially, research suggested that patients who contracted COVID-19 were exposed to specific animal products, e.g. seafood, or other animal market-based consumable products. Although it was later concluded that COVID-19 was not unique to consumers or connoisseurs of animal market-based consumable products, and that COVID-19 was transmittable between person-to-person in China, South Korea, The United States, and other countries.
What Does This Mean?
Like MERS & SARS, COVID-19 has been known to cause severe illness. But unlike MERS & SARS, there’s still much that isn’t yet known about COVID-19. But here’s what we do know; the CDC has officially designated COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) as a pandemic. Now it’s important to note that use of the word “pandemic” may sound scary, but it literally just means something is widespread over a country, or globally. It doesn’t mean widespread death. Although it is important to note that people have died due to COVID-19.
As of the publication of this article, there are now 80,980 reported cases of individuals who have contracted COVID-19, and of those who have contracted the virus, 3,000 individuals have died due to COVID-19.
Since January 21st, 2020, The United States has tested 426 people for the virus. Of those 426 people, 57 have tested positive for COVID-19 (39 of which were repatriated cases of passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship).
Currently there have been no reports of any US deaths due to COVID-19.
A recent study from the Chinese Center for Disease Control found that 80% of Coronavirus / COVID-19 cases in China have been mild.
Another research study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly a third of hospitalized patients studied at the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University were healthcare workers.
As the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has been providing consistent updates monitoring and reporting activity concerning COVID-19, the CDC is recommending taking the following measures to help curtail contracting COVID-19 :
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website
For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends familiarizing yourself with the following procedures & best practices.
Obviously concerns for treatment are valid. Just like any virus, we want to know how to best prepare for the potential threat of contracting such a virus. Unfortunately, when it comes to COVID-19, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the virus. The CDC recommends taking the following measures to ensure you’re cared for, if you believe you’ve contracted COVID-19:
People with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. For severe cases, treatment should include care to support vital organ functions.
People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
See Interim Guidance for Healthcare Professionals for information on persons under investigation.
Racist Stigmas & Discrimination
As an unfortunate byproduct of COVID-19, it’s given rise to misinformation, which has led to racist stigmas developing, and in some cases, even discrimination. It’s important to note that racist stigmas & discrimination are totally unacceptable, and completely unfounded. If you encounter anyone who’s being discriminated against, or is experiencing racism due to COVID-19 (or just in general), or you happen to be experiencing racism or discrimination yourself, say something, and report it. Discriminating against any demographic of people, or being racist against any demographic of people is not only completely unintelligent, but it’s the antithesis of being civilized.
Misinformation helps no one, and only leads to more misinformed people, which perpetuates prejudice, racist stigmas, and discrimination. Let’s not participate in that. Let’s be better, and do better. We’re all in this together, and the best thing any of us can do is to stay informed, ask questions, and communicate with one another in a civilized, empathic manner.
The more kind, compassionate, and informed our communities are, the greater chances we have at better understanding this virus, and eventually establishing a solution to better combatting it.