Over the past month or so the Coronavirus has become the main focus of the media. With cases of the Coronavirus popping up across the United States and the world, the question remains: How concerned should we be about the Coronavirus?
The first outbreak of the Coronavirus was in Wuhan, China. According to NBC News, while scientists are not certain where the virus came from, it is suspected that it was transmitted from bats. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the first case of the virus was reported on Dec. 31, 2019. While most of us have only heard of the Coronavirus in connection with the new outbreak originating from China, Coronaviruses are a class of viruses that includes the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) viruses. According to NBC News, both SARS and MERS are distantly related viruses caused by a Coronavirus. This new Coronavirus has been named COVID-19 by the WHO. Over the past two months, the Coronavirus has spread to numerous countries, with large infections in South Korea, Iran and Italy. A report done by CNN Health finds that the symptoms are closely related to that of a common cold: a sore throat, headaches, cough and runny nose. From what we know so far, the virus is most deadly to those with weak immune systems and the elderly. The New York Times states that on Jan. 20, 2020, the first case of Coronavirus was reported in the United States and there have been over 2,800 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus since then. As a result of the rapid spreading around the United States and the state of North Carolina, UNC Charlotte will move courses online starting March 16.
This virus has become a serious problem in the United States, resulting in measures being taken by states to prevent the mass spread of the virus. One example of this is school closure as we have seen here in NC. The UNC System Schools, including UNC Charlotte, have transitioned into online classes to further prevent the spread of the virus. Like NC, several states have also declared a state of emergency until President Trump declared a National Emergency to combat the Coronavirus on March 13. Another measure that has been taken by residents is stocking up on supplies. If you go to any store, the stock of hand sanitizer, Lysol and other cleaning supplies have been wiped out, leading many to have access to a limited supply of hygienic supplies. This is a major problem as the spread of the virus is still climbing and has not yet peaked, meaning that there is still a need for these hygienic supplies even in the next few weeks.
The question remains: How worried should we be about the Coronavirus? Based upon the information that has been published, it can be presumed that the Coronavirus will not only spread in NC but also in Charlotte. There have been four confirmed cases in Charlotte-Mecklenburg county. We could see more school closings as well as religious services postponed and gatherings of large groups banned. I fully support the closure of both public schools and universities as this will ultimately help to slow down the spread of the virus.
I do not believe that there will be a widespread quarantine as there have been in countries such as Italy and China. However, it will be wise for everyone to stay indoors, and for those who must go outside, do it cautiously. This means that one should avoid large groups of people and listen to warnings given out by the Center for Disease Control and other health organizations. We also must remember to thoroughly wash our hands. While this may seem like common sense, there are those out there that either does not normally wash their hands or do not wash their hands properly, which can further the spread of the virus.
Hygiene is not the only thing to worry about as the virus spreads. There is also the issue of food and water. As we prepare for the worst of the virus, it is not a bad idea to have a few weeks worth of food and water on hand since grocery stores are a breeding ground for germs and provide a suitable place for the virus to spread. At times it can be hard to know when to panic and when to stay calm in a situation such as this with the media often over-exaggerating the situation and some downplaying the seriousness. To handle this situation, we should be cautious and take measures to avoid the virus, but not go and panic-buy half of the stock of hand sanitizer at the grocery store. If people begin to go panic-buying then it only makes the situation worse because there are people out there who cannot afford to panic-buy with the increasing prices at high demands for low stock, and it causes others to panic. If we remain calm and heed the advice of the CDC and WHO, then there will be no need to worry over the virus.