Everyday, thousands of articles regarding the coronavirus are being written. People are either downplaying the current situation or they are having a full blown panic attack inside their bomb shelter, sitting on a throne of toilet paper they have stockpiled. Regardless, I think it is important to understand exactly what is going on here. So, I have decided to trace this virus and give people an overall big picture of how COVID-19 is affecting the world and my toilet paperless bathroom.
Before we discuss COVID-19, I think it is important to understand how novel viruses begin. Many of these new viruses are what we call, “Zoonotic Diseases,” meaning that they jump from animals to humans. One of the most infamous zoonotic diseases is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The first reported case was in 1959, when a man in Congo reportedly contracted HIV from a chimpanzee. Clearly the destruction of HIV is devastating, therefore taking zoonotic diseases lightly is simply the wrong way to go about this. Now, on the flip side, most novel viruses infect a few people at most and then fizzle out. Unfortunately, if it is highly contagious and picks up steam, it is extraordinarily difficult to stop it.
The first case of COVID-19 can be traced back to November 17th, when a man in Wuhan, China likely contracted the disease from a bat. This is when the first major mistake came in. China originally thought that the virus could only be contracted from bat to human. They failed to recognize that human to human transmission was even an option at the time. Knowing what we know now, I think that China would have handled the situation a little differently. Unfortunately they did not, and the virus began to spread in similar ways as the Influenza virus. The city of Wuhan, China has a population of over 11 million people. Let me repeat that…. ELEVEN MILLION PEOPLE. They are all crammed in one city, therefore human interactions happen quite frequently.
China still was in denial about the severity of the coronavirus, so the spread of it lost control. Some news sources even noted that China tried to hide the spread of the disease for quite some time before it became too big of an issue. The ability to fly from one continent to the next is an incredible tool for our society, however in situations like this, it can perpetuate the spread of infectious diseases. On January 19, 2020, the first case of coronavirus hit the United States. It was a 35 year old man who presented to the hospital with respiratory symptoms and fever. When asked if he had any recent travel, he reported “Wuhan, China.” From there, the outbreak in Washington began.
The scariest part about the transmission of infectious diseases is that you can pass along the virus to people without even knowing you have it. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, it can take up to 5.4 days to develop symptoms from the onset of your exposure. So, if you come in contact with the virus on Monday, it is likely that you will not develop the cough or fever until Saturday. Therefore, every single person you come in contact with could likely contract COVID-19. If you are one of the people that are not taking the social distancing seriously because you are asymptomatic, you could potentially be the reason behind countless transmissions. And for some people, they could be carrying the disease and never even develop any of the symptoms.
Originally, I admittedly was not very concerned. But the more research I did, the more concerned I became. It wasn’t until I saw what was going on in Italy until my concern level rose. There are so many cases right now that they literally do not have enough space in hospitals to treat some of them. Therefore, they are being forced to choose who gets treated or not based on moral principle. If you are younger or have children, your life would most likely be spared over someone else’s. Even healthcare workers are getting sick and are being forced to continue to work. If that happens in the United States, we are literally fucked.
The precautions being taken may seem dramatic to many, however it is necessary. If we continue to let this virus spread and fail to follow the protocol set in place by people much smarter than you and me, then we could end up in the same situation as the Italians. This article is not meant to scare anyone, it is simply just stating facts.
This is the trajectory of the cases in the United States. It is a scary thing to look at because it does not appear to be slowing down at all. I’m less worried about the severity of the disease itself, and more worried about overwhelming ICU’s, which can lead to many more deaths. We all need to do our part in slowing down the virus, because it can (and most likely will) become a much bigger problem than it is today. Lay down, catch up on Netflix, and help reduce the transmission while the experts work on the vaccine to help our nation reduce the spread even further.