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Everything you need to know about the CORONAVIRUS
Who, What, When, Why, and…Where the hell is all of the hand sanitizer?!
Unless you live in Antarctica, or you’re a literal bat, you have had growing concerns about this new virus taking the world by storm. The Coronavirus. With the flurry of information (and misinformation) going around, it can be hard to keep up…
Where did it come from? Why are people wearing masks? What’s the death rate? How does it affect the economy? And, seriously, why can’t I find hand sanitizer anywhere?!
What’s Covered in this Article
In order to help you figure out where you sit with it all of this, and why, I’ve composed a list of all of the most important information nuggets including:
- What is the Coronavirus?
- Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What countries are affected by the Coronavirus?
- What is going on with testing and possible vaccines?
- How to protect yourself from the Coronavirus.
- Why people are panicking about the Coronavirus.
- Why people aren’t panicking about the Coronavirus.
- What the motivations are for minimizing the perception of its influence.
- What the difference is between the Coronavirus and Influenza.
- How the Coronavirus is impacting the economy .
- Why is Trump selfishly motivated to downplay the virus, disregarding public safety for personal gain?
- How to take precautions and what we all should and shouldn’t do.
What is the Coronavirus?
The following information comes from the CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization).
Street Name: Coronavirus
Specific name: COVID-19
Family name: CoV
The Coronavirus that everyone is talking about is actually one, of the many, viruses that belong to a large family of zoonotic viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like SARS and MERS. **Zoonotic means a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans.**
So the Coronavirus that we are all talking about, should really be referred to as COVID-19, because that’s it’s specific name. Co stands for Corona, VI, stands for Virus, and D stands for Disease, and 19 because it originated in 2019.
COVID-19… It’s just one of the Coronavirus family members.
So image it like a family. A potentially deadly, possibly pandemic, family with the last name: Coronavirus.
They have a daughter named SARS Coronavirus, she’s around 18 years old and has largely grown out of her most impactful stages, but she’s still a concern.
There’s a son named MERS Coronavirus, he’s 8 years old, and still pretty problematic.
And now, there’s a 3-month old, named COVID19 Coronavirus.
Just like regular families, they are all a little different yet they are composed of many of the same fundamentals. We know more about SARS and MERS, because they are older. They’ve been around longer. And we know the basics of what COVID19 might be about because of what family it belongs to: The coronavirus family—a large family of zoonotic viruses ranging from “meh, I can handle this cold” to literally dying.
But COVID19 is still very young and we are still learning what it is and what it could become.
What are the Symptoms and Effects of the Coronavirus, COVID-19?
Now, before I get into ANY of the following, I have to hit you guys with a disclaimer. Because I know there are some people out there just waiting to get mad at the wrong people for the wrong things… And in this case, it might be me. So:
I’m not a doctor, I don’t study pathogenic viruses or diseases as a profession. Hell, I don’t even really study them unless they affect me or the people I care about, therefore all of the following is simply opinion drafted by hours of online research and reading through other people’s studies, other people’s opinions of those studies, and then forming my opinions based on all of that combined with my own life perspective and cognitive ability. Everything I say at all times is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice nor for treating a virus or disease. Do NOT disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something I have said or communicated in any way at any time. Period. It’s really not worth suing me anyway. I don’t have very much money. Passion? I got lots. Love? overflowing. Opinions? Can’t keep my mouth shut. Money? Comparatively, very little. So, please keep it moving.
The COVID-19 Coronavirus has been referred to as a “novel Coronavirus” because it’s a new strain that has never been identified in humans before. Thus, we are learning everything as it happens.
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
HOW IT MIGHT AFFECT YOUR BODY:
- Coronaviruses are respiratory diseases. Therefore, most patients with COVID-19 experience lung-related issues.
- Patients may experience flu-like symptoms, starting out with a fever or cough and then that can progress into something much more dangerous like shortness of breath, pneumonia, or something even worse.
- Early studies have shown similarities between SARS and COVID-19, particularly in how it attacks and what it does. The WHO stated that SARS attacks in three phases: Viral Replication, Immune Hyper-reactivity, and Pulmonary Destruction.
- According to Matthew B. Frieman, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who studies highly pathogenic coronaviruses, COVID-19 appears to follow many of the same patterns as SARS. 7
- Here’s my quick synopsis of his thoughts:
PHASE 1 of COVID-19 (Viral Replication)
- In the early days of the infection, COVID-19 rapidly invades the lung cells. Remember in Osmosis Jones when the main evil character/disease “The Red Death” took over part of Bill Murray’s internal system and set up shop? Think like that.
- The lung cells are broken up into two classes: one that makes mucus and one that has tiny fiber-like things called cilia that look like little hairs. Mucus helps rid your body of pathogens and makes sure things don’t dry out. The cilia cells go around the mucus clearing out debris like pollen or viruses. 7
- Frieman explained that SARS would infect and kill cilia cells, which would then slough off and fill the airways with debris and fluid. And he believes this is the same thing happening with COVID-19. Which is why some of the earliest studies have revealed that many patients develop pneumonia in both lungs and experience shortness of breath.
PHASE 2 of COVID-19 (Immune Hyper-reactivity)
- Recognizing some messed up stuff is going on in the lungs, the immune system kicks in. It notices there’s a viral invader so it tries to fight it off by flooding the lungs with cells to repair the lung tissue and get all of the gunk out of there. The problem is, that the immune system cells can go rogue, and rather than just killing the infection, they can kill anything in their way, including healthy tissue and cells. So it ends up creating more problems. More debris and more junk clogging up your lungs. Cue phase 3.
PHASE 3 of COVID-19 (Pulmonary Destruction)
- During phase 3 lung damage continues to build and it could eventually turn into complete respiratory failure. And, according to Frieman, even if death doesn’t occur, some patients survive with permanent lung damage. And WHO has stated that SARS patients wind up with giant holes punched out of their lungs, making them look like honeycombs and these same lesions are present in those with COVID-19.
- Though Morbid, how people pass away is generally by their lungs filling up with fluid and then they can’t breathe anymore.
Because it’s early, we don’t know what we don’t know. But there are suggestions that COVID-19 could affect areas outside of the lungs as well, including the GI tract, liver damage or failure, etc.
The main things to pay attention to are: What’s the evidence? Don’t just leap on the first thing you hear, ask questions and use your critical thinking skills. I’ve jokingly (not so jokingly) said that I’m more concerned about the spread of misinformation that I am about the coronavirus.
Okay, enough about what may or may not happen to your body if you get COVID-19. Let’s see what you can do to take precautions now.
How to Protect Yourself From the Coronavirus
In my humble opinion, COVID-19 is already pervasive and is going to be everywhere, just like the flu. But don’t mistake that for me saying the virus itself is just like the flu. It’s not, it’s much more lethal, and I will explain that later. I’m saying the ubiquitous nature of the virus is similar to the flu. Also, just because I think it will likely be everywhere, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take proper steps and precautions.
- Wash your hands. Yes I know, everyone loves to joke about this on media stations saying it’s such a minimizing way to dealing with this virus. But it’s a good idea nonetheless and I know most of y’all ain’t out there washing your hands effectively, if at all. I have worked in two rather big office buildings and have witnessed people many times walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands. So, just get it together people. Wash your hands.
- Sanitize yo’self – I’m going to give you a tip. Hand sanitizer has run extremely low on inventory lately, so maybe can’t find any, anywhere near you. If that’s the case, do not, I repeat do NOT, get into a black-friday-esk throw-down over the last hand sani bottle in the store. Calm down and make your own. Mix rubbing alcohol (at least 70%) with an essential oil, put it in a spray bottle, and spray everything you come in contact with, then also spray your hands. That’s my policy.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces with bleach. ⅓ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water according to the CDC. Also, whenever you clean with bleach NEVER mix it with any other chemicals or cleaning products and ALWAYS use it in a well-ventilated area.
What about masks?
Here’s the Guardian’s take on it, “Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick – viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).” 10
The general consensus is:
If you have the virus:
- Stay at home.
- Wear a mask and be hyper-vigilant about not spreading the virus to those around you, including wearing a mask and sanitizing.
- Stay away from your animals. There haven’t been any reported cases of it being spread but the CDC recommends having someone else look after your animals. So whether they can be affected or not, that is the safe vs. sorry suggestion from the CDC.
If you don’t have the virus, it seems like it’s a good idea to yourself a few questions:
- Should I reconsider attending large social events and festivals?
- Should I be vigilant about sanitizing and taking precautionary measures?
- Should I be traveling and taking unnecessary trips or having unnecessary gatherings?
Does this mean you walk around in a HAZMAT suit at all times? Probably not a sustainable way of avoiding COVID-19. But if that’s what makes you feel comfortable? I’m cool with it.
Does this mean you go to raves/festivals and makeout with hundreds of strangers or fly to Wuhan, China searching for some Pangolins and bats to hang out with? No. Don’t do that.
But we also shouldn’t brush it off as though it’s nothing but a fart in the wind.
This is something.
And it has the potential to be something really big, and really bad.
And it also has the potential to be something of the past…. Something that we all collectively decided to be vigilant about stopping in its tracks. Something that we decided to listen to scientists about.
The outcome rests in our very clean, very washed hands.
Should I Capitalize on the Cheap Flights During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Here’s the deal you guys: the coronavirus is affecting the economy hugely.. And we will continue to feel the ramifications… for a while. I’ll talk about this at length in one of my next articles. But for now, here’s what you should know: flights are cheap… But don’t take the bait!
Aside from sending the wrong message, it’s also taking action in a way that’s counterproductive socially.
I’m not in support of capitalizing on cheap flights or non-necessary travel during this time. I haven’t heard a strong, prudent case in supporting why it’s a good idea to do. Outside of economic ramifications (which are inevitable, already in effect, and purchasing flights and traveling isn’t the long-term solution, nor even an effective solution).
I don’t think we should be catastrophizing the Coronavirus nor do I think we should be downplaying it. But I do think we should be aware of the potential impacts we have… especially during an incubation period.. which, believe it or not, I believe this still is. I also firmly believe we shouldn’t be acting as we have been up until this point. Myopia is one large part of the problem here.
I understand the motivation to want to travel and take advantage of cheap flights… trust me, I got the emails with the $25 flight notifications as well.. but the reality is: we have a virus that is spreading and is 10 times more lethal than the flu, (according to Fauci, who is, in fact, the nation’s top expert and has been an immunologist and director for the NIAID for like 800 years (kidding it’s since the late 80’s I think but still).. and that’s conservative number and weighing in all of the variables (unlike former statistics)
…. And while us millennials may belong to a demographic that lends itself to us likely being vectors who may experience symptoms but aren’t at risk for dying… That’s not a good enough reason to be traveling for leisure, in my mind. It’s not myself I’m necessarily concerned about in this case, It’s my parents. Its other people’s parents. It’s the older generation and those who may have complications or are particularly vulnerable. It’s the hospital overcrowding and lack of resources. Of course we can also be asymptomatic… trotting around, feeling fine, and unknowingly presenting a very real threat to those whose bodies can’t fight the virus.
Ultimately: I understand economic interest motivates people so I put the onus on the travel agencies/airlines, but I also put it on us respectively.
Like I said, I think social distancing, limiting unnecessary travel, being sanitary (much more sanitary than we are used to being) and taking proper precautions is a good idea in general and also conveys a strong message. I think what it comes down to is asking ourselves: How can I contribute socially in a positive way during this time? And then letting our actions answer that question.
But again, I also know the airline and travel industries are often taking advantage of us. So the first thought for many of us (including me) was $25 DOLLAR FLIGHTS?!?!? How can I capitalize? But I think it’s much less about “people are freaking out about nothing and dropping their flights, therefore I’ll take advantage” as it is: “I am a vector and maybe I should consider my place in all of this?”
For more information go to the CDC
Person to Person transmission of Coronavirus
- COVID-19 is typically spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, thereby spraying little droplets to anyone within close proximity
- It can be spread when people are asymptomatic, this means they aren’t experiencing any symptoms or if they are experiencing symptoms. You can also spread the virus during the incubation period.
- It’s possible to contract the virus from touching contaminated surfaces, though this isn’t said to be the main way according to the CDC.
None of this is to say you should live in fear. That doesn’t help anyone and we actually have an overwhelming amount of historic evidence that proves why that can be highly problematic. But also, should you continue living in the exact same way you have been? Likely not a good idea. Things are not the same. In a big way.
I have become vigilant about what I touch, when I touch, and why I touch. If I’m getting gas, I spray the handle with a sanitizing solution I created with Isopropyl alcohol (70%) and peppermint essential oil. THEN, I spray my hands. Do the deed. And then do everything all over again. Sure, some people may think it’s overkill or silly or ridiculous. But during a pandemic, I don’t think any of these measures can be overstated.
I have a spray hand sanitizer but you can also create a squeeze bottle. The only difference is adding Aloe Vera gel so it’s jelly like. So, at least Isopropyl Alcohol (70%), essential oil, and aloe vera. But the only thing that really matters is the alc.
What is happening in Italy can happen to the US.
But don’t take it from me. Here’s what Yascha Mounk of The Atlantic had to say:
Two weeks ago, Italy had 322 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Doctors were able to lavish the patients with care and attention.
One week ago, Italy had 2,502 confirmed cases of COVID-19. “At that point, doctors in the country’s hospitals could still perform the most life saving functions by artificially ventilating patients who experienced acute breathing difficulties.
Today, Italy has 10,149 cases of the coronavirus. There are now simply too many patients for each one of them to receive adequate care. Doctors and nurses are unable to tend to everybody. They lack machines to ventilate all those gasping for air.”
And now, doctors are faced with moral dilemmas: who do we save? And the logic that follows is: The people with the highest chance of therapeutic success.
So that means the allocation of care and resources goes to those presumably the youngest and healthiest.
Mounk ends by stating something so eloquently and with succinct clarity that I am going to quote his full statement:
“If you are an overworked nurse battling a novel disease under the most desperate circumstances, and you simply cannot treat everyone, however hard you try, whose life should you save?
Despite those years of theory, I must admit that I have no moral judgment to make about the extraordinary document published by those brave Italian doctors. I have not the first clue whether they are recommending the right or the wrong thing.
But if Italy is in an impossible position, the obligation facing the United States is very clear: To arrest the crisis before the impossible becomes necessary.
This means that our political leaders, the heads of business and private associations, and every one of us need to work together to accomplish two things: Radically expand the capacity of the country’s intensive-care units. And start engaging in extreme forms of social distancing.
Cancel everything. Now.”
So while it may seem appealing to gobble up cheap flights and take advantage of travel…. Really think about the impact that may be having on others. Sure, you may not get sick, you might just be a vector. But if you do get sick… and (whether or not you spread it to people) you end up in the hospital…. If the same thing were to happen to the US that is happening with Italy.. You would likely be saved at the expense of others.
And that doesn’t sit well with me.
In the US, as of today, we have 1,277 active, reported, and confirmed cases.
The first case in the US was reported on January 21, 2020 in Washington State. Now, roughly two months later, we have had a total of 1,277 active cases (excluding those who have recovered).
The best time to take active steps and precautions was 3 months ago. The second best time is now.
Here’s what we know about transmission:
SARS was transmitted to humans through these adorable little ferret/raccoon looking things called “Civets” that live in parts of Asia and Africa.
And MERS was transmitted to humans from dromedary camels – which are one-humped camels found in the Middle East.
So what about the newborn, COVID-19?
According to a study published on Feb 3, COVID19 was likely transmitted to humans from bats. This study determined that the “bat coronavirus shared 96% of its genetic material with the virus that causes COVID.” 3 That being said, there are two small but important variations between the two that may suggest an intermediate host could have transferred it to humans. Which has raised suspicions around these cute aardvark/armadillo-looking, scaly mammals called Pangolins.
Bats → wild animal (Pangolin?) → Humans
A BBC case scenario:
- A bat with the Coronavirus flies around and then poops, little batty poop droplets onto the forest floor.
- An animal, let’s say a Pangolin, is shuffling around the forest floor, eating insects, and contracts the Coronavirus from the bat poop particles. And then maybe this disease circulates around wildlife. Regardless, here’s what might happen next.
- The infected Pangolin is then captured by a poacher and he contracts it somehow from the Pangolin.
- Then the infected person takes the infected Pangolin, and sells it in a market. And potentially all of the people who come in contact with the infected Pangolin, and/or, the infected human, get the Coronavirus as well.
So how exactly did the virus get transferred from Pangolins (or bats) to humans? The evidence suggests that humans contracted the virus from a market in Wuhan, a city in central China. 5 It was likely a wet market and SARS was also said to have been contracted through a wet market.
So, What is a wet market?
A wet market is a market where the slaughtering generally occurs in front of you. So the wet market in China often consists of many huts next to one another with various types of slaughtered animals or live/soon to be slaughtered animals, such as rabbits, dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, and other various “exotic” meats and wildlife, both legal and illegal.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, “Poorly regulated, live-animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts into the human population.” 6
And this “exotic wildlife” is actually, in most cases, illegal to sell, kill or do anything else with other than observe them naturally in nature. But just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it’s not done. And just because it’s illegal, doesn’t mean there aren’t strategic loopholes. And furthermore, just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean people don’t want it. On the contrary, it might mean they want it more.
And Pangolins are one of these exotic, wildlife, mammals that offer poachers a unique opportunity to make a lot of money.
More About Pangolins and Why They Matter
Pangolins sadly happen to be among the world’s most-trafficked animals and two of the species are critically endangered. They’ve also been referred to as “functionally extinct,” Their scales are coveted for use in Chinese Medicine and their meat is viewed as a delicacy among the super-wealthy in China and Vietnam.
National Geographic has run multiple articles and stories on these cute, harmless, and widely regarded as shy, little creatures and the sadly, seriously declining population of them. So how does this relate to the COVID-19 Coronavirus?
Well back in 2016, 186 countries (that were a part of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) voted to ban the commercial trade of Pangolins. It was illegal.
And although Pangolin scales, much like Rhino horns, have no proven medicinal value they are still used in Chinese medicine. Therefore, poachers and traffickers can make a lot of money from poaching and selling these Pangolins, illegally. However, because the Chinese Pangolin is “functionally extinct,” poachers have turned to African Pangolins. In April of 2019 alone, two record-breaking seizures occurred. According to National Geographic, “Singapore seized a 14.2-ton shipment and a 14-ton shipment of pangolin scales—from an estimated 72,000 pangolins—coming from Nigeria.”4
Back to the wet market. Basically, these wet markets can provide the perfect conditions, the perfect storm for zoonotic (and other) viruses to spread to humans. They are largely unregulated, the conditions of the market, and the wildlife being sold all come together to create a uniquely opportune position for the spread of viruses.
Because of all of this, Scrutiny has been placed on the massive, illegal Chinese trade of the Pangolins.10
So let’s take a break and get re-caught up:
Let’s review again the scenario:
- A bat with the Coronavirus flies around and then poops, little batty poop droplets onto the forest floor.
- An animal, let’s say a Pangolin, is shuffling around the forest floor, eating insects, and contracts the Coronavirus from the bat poop particles. And then maybe this disease circulates around wildlife.
- The infected Pangolin is then captured by a poacher and he contracts it somehow from the Pangolin.
- Then the infected person takes the infected Pangolin, and sells it in a market. And potentially all of the people who come in contact with the infected Pangolin, and/or, the infected human, get the Coronavirus as well.
What is China doing about the Coronavirus?
Although China has had wildlife bans in place for many, many years, it hasn’t completely prevented the sale of these in markets. As of February 2020, China announced a permanent ban on Wildlife trade and consumption. However, there is a problematic loophole: This ban does not include fur, medicinal, or research. So there really could be a strong case made that these exemptions could cause the perpetuation of these viruses.
According to an analysis done by the Wildlife Conservation Society, “This creates a potential loophole for traffickers who may exploit the nonfood exemptions to sell or trade live wildlife.”
So while the ban is a step in the right direction, it needs some adjusting. Historically, enforcement has been very lax and there have been exceptions made for licensed retailers from the start.
And while there may be a wildlife ban, that doesn’t mean the demand to have exotic meats, like pangolins, declines. For example, according to the New York Times, searches for what wild animals can still be eaten, on Chinese Social Media, have been trending. 5
Also, according to a report, pangolins are continuing to rise in price, now worth around $300 per pound. The meat has been seen as a status symbol. And this is all highly problematic.
After the SARS outbreak, there was a temporary ban on wildlife markets… but the markets quickly sprang up again across China and Southeast Asia.
So after the SARS outbreak, Civets (remember those cute raccoon-like animals) they were killed in mass due to fear of the animals. THAT’S NOT THE ANSWER. The animals themselves are not the problem. Our interaction with these animals is the problem. It’s the contact that we have with these animals that is the problem.
Bats are incredibly helpful in this giant and delicate ecosystem we belong to. Insectivorous bats eat tons of mosquitos and insects and fruit bats pollinate trees and spread seeds.
Pangolins play their part.
Humans play our part.
Eradicating or wiping out a species is not the answer. We should be examining ourselves and our own interactions.
So rather than going on a killing rampage, the answer lies in our interactions with these animals. Now, being a passionate animal advocate, I have a very biased opinion on this entire subject matter, but at the very least, we should seek to address this problem at the root. And the root is what animals are being consumed for what reasons and what the impacts of such are.
Ultimately, whether COVID19 came from the Pangolin, or some other form of wildlife, what we know, is that it’s here. And now, we must ask ourselves, what’s the best way to address it.
Quick Overview of the Coronavirus Basics:
When did the Coronavirus start?
The first reported case of COVID19 Coronavirus occurred in Wuhan, China in December of 2019.
Where did the Coronavirus come from?
Species? First a bat. And then likely an intermediate host like a Pangolin or some other form of wildlife.
What regions are currently affected by the Coronavirus?
According to the CDC, and every other source, it’s in every continent except Antarctica.
Here’s an interactive map from the New York Times. They update it regularly.
Coronavirus Vs the Flu?
While many people who get coronavirus may only experience symptoms similar to the flu, the profile of the COVID-19 virus itself looks much more serious.
According to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the COVID-19 Coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than the seasonal flu. “The flu has a mortality of 0.1%. This is ten times that. That’s the reason I want to emphasize we have to stay ahead of the game.”12
In 2017 and 2019 two studies were done (that are on the NCBI—National Center for Biotechnology Information—website) that provide us with insight into some sound statistics for the global death rate of people caused by Influenza.
And it estimates that the flu kills around 290,000 to 650,000 people a year globally.
So if the COVID-19 coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than the flu… then, in theory, you could take that number of people who are estimated to be killed by the flu and multiple by 10 to get an idea of how many people could die globally.
290,000 x 10 = 2.9 million
650,000 x 10 = 6.5 million
So that means the COVID-19 coronavirus could kill between 2.9 million and 6.5 million people per year if it were to become as ubiquitous as the flu.
Now it’s important to mention the major differences and why comparing the Coronavirus to the flu, can be problematic:
- The flu has been around longer, we can be reasonably sure of the death rate (it was relatively the same the year before as well at .1%)
- We have a vaccine for the flu and we can identify what it is and who has it quickly
- And when you are looking for statistics, it can be misleading when guessing the mortality rate if many cases aren’t reported or taken into account. However, Anthony Fauci put this to rest.
I think it’s really important for us to stop comparing the Coronavirus to the flu as a means to downplay its effects on our world and its inhabitants. It’s not like we are swapping one with the other. They both exist simultaneously. And we really have the ability to come together and make this thing something that is no longer a thing… but we all have to be on the same page. We all have to be careful, that is full of care, thoughtful, and considerate.
*If you feel like geeking out, you can read the studies here. They are extensive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
When should we self-isolate and/or avoid social gatherings?
As of yesterday March 11, 2020, there are at least 1,240 people in 42 states that have tested positive for the Coronavirus COVID-19 and at least 37 patients have died.
The first case was reported on January 21, 2020 in Washington State. According to The NY Times, at the start of this month, which was 12 days ago, 70 cases had been reported, most of which were tied to overseas travel. Since then, cases poured in by the dozens than hundreds daily. South Dakota had no known cases as of Tuesday morning. Then, as of Wednesday night, 8 cases popped up with one death. From the first known case being reported on March 1, to now, 12 days later there have been 200 reported cases.
So here’s what we know- it’s spreading fast and its community spread. Now is the time to take precautions. Don’t panic. Don’t run around with your hair on fire punching babies. But be sanitary, practice social distancing, and be thoughtful. My take? I have been and will continue to be avoiding social gatherings of any kind.
Should I have a stock-pile ready for the Coronavirus outbreak?
Here’s what I think: you should have a 14-day emergency supply kit regardless of anything else. I live in California and this is probably something I should have done a while ago just in case, but if it takes the Coronavirus to do that, then so be it. I don’t think we should be catastrophizing things but we should still be alert, aware, and prepared. This doesn’t mean that you buy 7 Costco packs of toilet paper. But it might mean that you prepare yourself with a reasonable amount of supplies (14 days) to last you as you practice social distancing.
Why has Trump been Downplaying the Coronavirus?
Two probable reasons:
- He wants to shield his private businesses from the economic fallout
- He wants the stock market/economy to be in good standing because that’s largely what he’s run his campaign on
According to Vanity Fair, “As the virus snaked around the globe, the president was slow, per the AP, to “embrace federal recommendations against the elderly boarding airplanes or passengers traveling on cruise ships,” which could simply be a matter of him characteristically having no idea what he’s doing, or it could be a reticence to do anything that might hurt his bottom line. Or maybe a bit of both!
While Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, acknowledged that he doesn’t know what’s going through Trump’s head when, for example, the president tells people not to worry at all about the novel coronavirus, he noted that Trump’s refusal to sell his business before taking office makes it pretty damn hard to take his word for it. “We have to ask with almost every major policy decision whether he’s acting in the country’s interest or his own interest,” Bookbinder said. “In a time of crisis like this, being able to trust our institutions, that our government is making the right decision for our health, economy, and security, is incredibly important.”
You can find the complete Vanity Fair article here.
There has been a ton of misinformation and mixed media about the coronavirus and I know that has caused many people supreme confusion. The worst part is the political power plays of arrogant, corrupt, and ignorant people who want to keep their positions or for personal gain. At any cost. Even a pandemic.
When Rudy Guiliani, former New York Mayor, big-time heinous guy, and personal counsel to Trump, tweets a strategically misleading post about the leading causes of death, stating things like Heart disease and cancer, and then writing “Likely at the very bottom, Coronavirus.” Of course that will be confusing to people. He is using fallacious measures to convince the public that it’s no big deal.
And when, in a similar fashion, cabinet secretary Ben Carson explained on a day time talk show, “This virus is like other viruses. It should be treated the same way… We have flu seasons that come up frequently.” Of course that shit will be confusing to people.
So what gives? Why would they be motivated to minimize the severity or danger of the virus? It’s not like I’d seek counsel in or follow guidance from either of these two. But why would they say this?
And when Trump consistently downplays the virus on social media, then the public is getting mixed messages. And it can cause panic, distrust, and confusion.
So who can we trust? Scientists and experts.
Not Trump. He is motivated by his own personal interests and economic well-being. This has been proven and evidenced time and again. He has proven to be dishonest. Time and again. So the answer is not him. This we know.
The blanket answer, as with most things, is largely: Health professionals, immunologists, people like Anthony Fauci, scientists, and those who have the public’s best interest at heart and.. Here’s the biggie… people that have EXPERIENCE…. These are the people that are quite literally experts in this stuff….
Not a man with tiny, orange hands nor his entourage of unscrupulous cronies.
What is a pandemic? Is this that?
A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease.
As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization has declared the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Trump said that the Coronavirus vaccine would be ready soon. Should I believe him?
No. And that stands for almost everything he says. He 1. Doesn’t know what he’s talking about and 2. Is motivated by his own selfish interests over the health of the public.
The process for having a commercial vaccine available and ready to shoot into people or give people in pill form is very lengthy and rather slow-moving. And with reason. Aside from proving efficacy… Side effects anyone? Long-term effects?
To have a commercially viable vaccine ready to go within one year would be a fast turnaround. Just to put things into perspective.
While several labs globally have prototypes that they are testing in animals currently, possibly moving to human trials within a month, that doesn’t mean that we will have commercially viable vaccines by that point.. At all.
The process generally goes like this:
- Develop prototype
- Test on animals *Prove safe and effective
- Test on humans *Prove safe and effective
- Go through long regulatory processes (that can be sped along, but not as dramatically as you would hope… and again, for good reason)
- Manufacturing the vaccine at scale and distributing it (This part being the biggest hurdle)
As the Telegraph states, “And if it were ready before the end of the outbreak it would probably be given to what public health experts call “key populations” first – health workers, vulnerable groups and the contacts of affected patients – before any nationwide mass vaccination programme took place.”
But what doctors are hoping for, more than vaccines, is to repurpose drugs used to treat other diseases like HIV and Malaria, for COVID-19. But that’s something we can discuss at another time or you can research on your own.
Is the Coronavirus morphing to more dangerous strains?
Yes and no. According to a study posted in the National Science Review, Chinese Scientists stated that COVID-19 has morphed into 2 strains, one of which is more aggressive and could hinder attempts to develop an effective vaccine. It’s allegedly evolved into these two strains, one called “S” and one called “L,” the latter of which spreads quickly and accounts for around 70% of cases. Whether there are two strains or not, and whether these strains act in the way people suspect, what we know for sure is that there is a novel coronavirus.
Does this mean we should boycott Corona beer?
Boycotting the purchase of corona beer because of a fear of getting the coronavirus makes about as much sense as eating Tide Pods. Which is exactly zero.
You guys, people are actually doing this. I didn’t add this section flippantly.
Fine, we won’t boycott companies that share similar root words with the virus…. But, should we start acting in Xenophobic and racist ways towards Asians and Asian Americans?
Arg!! Fine! But then what the hell do we do with all of our built-up anger and frustration?
Channel it in a positive, socially constructive way. Boycotting brands that have names that sound like the Coronavirus and harassing Asians/Asian Americans doesn’t make sense and it’s not effective in handling any type of pandemic. Practice proper precautions and social distancing, and operate in a sanitary way.
The flu has killed more people than the Coronavirus, so everyone should just calm the heck down and continue to minimize it, right?
Wrong. V. wrong. This is misleading rhetoric because yes, the flu has killed more people… but also, the flu has been around, existing in humans, much, much LONGER. That’s a strategically misleading thing to say. And the Coronavirus has been around (in humans) for 4 months… and we have determined it’s 10 times more lethal than the flu. So you do the math. (Actually you don’t have to, remember I gave rough estimates earlier). I believe we all have a civic and moral duty to pay attention, be considerate, and weigh out our possible motivations for doing what it is that we do. If you are going about your merry way, doing everything exactly as you have been, that is problematic. Because things are not exactly as they were. And if you are capitalizing on the cheap plane flights and traveling around, I would hope you would understand the impact you may be having on others.
According to the CDC:
“Consider the risk of passing COVID-19 to others during travel, particularly if you will be in close contact with people who are older adults or have severe chronic health condition These people are at higher risk of getting very sick. If your symptoms are mild or you don’t have a fever, you may not realize you are infectious.”
Perhaps you are young and perhaps you evade all of the symptoms. But you are still a carrier. You may still be passing the virus onto those who may not be as fortunate.
The Coronavirus only kills older people or people that have problems so younger people can just kick back and do what they want, right?
WRONG. It’s your civic and moral duty to operate in a way that protects the most vulnerable of our society. While most people who are not elderly and don’t have underlying conditions will not become fatally ill from the virus, that doesn’t mean they should go about their business spreading the seed and not giving a fig. We don’t know the extent of the effects of the virus. We have an idea, and the idea is bad, but we don’t know for sure. What I’m getting at is: the younger people have the ability to protect the most vulnerable and shape the overall trajectory of the virus and the outbreak itself. I think it’s selfish, complacent, and perhaps either lazy or uninformed to not examine your role in the spread of this virus or in taking precautionary steps.
Millennials, my fellow Millennials. I guess, appreciate the upbeat attitude…. but doesn’t it seem like we might be in the middle of some serious shit and maybe we can find a way to… be “more?”
More empathetic, more concerned, more caring, more involved politically—while having a good time smiling, enjoying living, enjoying loving, enjoying helping, enjoying growing, and enjoying friendships.
At least those are my thoughts.
Misinformation about the coronavirus.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again:
I am more concerned about the spread of misinformation than I am about the spread of the coronavirus… and I’m very concerned about the spread of the coronavirus.
Buzzfeed did an excellent job with an article that they have updated and continue to update with fact-checking hoaxes and misinformation about the coronavirus:
You can find the link here.
We have the power.
Ultimately we have the power and ability to control the trajectory of this coronavirus. Viruses can’t reproduce on their own. That’s the nature of being a virus. Oddly enough they lack the ability to reproduce without a host… that’s one of the definitions of a virus. So we really do have the power.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson said, “I think we’re in the middle of a massive experiment worldwide. The experiment is: Will people listen to scientists? In this case, medical professionals. It’d be interesting if we all paid attention to what scientists say, maybe the virus will just blow on by, with a minimum of cases, and then we kicked its ass, for obeying the recommendation of science on how to minimize your chances of getting it.”
The choice is ours my friend.
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