Jared Curci, Staff Writer
We are dealing with an epidemic that is not only on the minds of the citizens of the United States, but the whole world. It started out as a complete mystery to medical professionals and the general population alike, but now everyone has heard about the coronavirus.
This illness has come out of nowhere and has taken the world by storm. As of right now, there have been approximately 31,500 cases in 24 different countries. The coronavirus has already claimed the lives of 636 people and that number only continues to grow. Federal Health Officials have been steadfast in their claims that the risk to the public is low, but numerous circumstances are surfacing to public eye every day.
This illness originally started in Wuhan, a city of the Hubei province in China. Cases of respiratory problems have been confirmed since December of last year. Many public health administrators and officials have debated the true cause of this outbreak with theories ranging from disease carrying animals such as bats, to seafood found in local markets. But that does not necessarily answer the question of how the coronavirus has been spread from person to person and across national borders.
Upon further research, I have noticed the striking resemblance between the coronavirus and the common flu. The symptoms of the flu and the coronavirus are known to mirror each other with most people reporting fever, shortness of breath, and a cough.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands, touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands, and even in rare cases, fecal contamination.”
Though most reported cases have been primarily isolated to China and surrounding countries, the United States government has still placed a large concern on the prevention the virus widely spreading here at home. Many officials believe that any reported cases found outside of China were brought by infected people who had recently visited. Due to this, more and more flights have been canceled at major airports, and more and more travelers have been quarantined to screen for potential infection.
However, as of early February, there have been 12 reported cases, spanning six different states. Officials still anxiously wait on dozens of more tests, concerning people who may or may not have contracted the virus. Most of the coronavirus cases have been in the western United States, including six in California. Officials in Washington State, Arizona, Massachusetts and Wisconsin each reported one diagnosis, and Illinois has announced two cases. Nine of the first 12 patients in the United States had traveled recently near Wuhan, the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak. At least two of those people were believed to have lived in Wuhan, while others were residents of the United States who had visited China, then returned home.
The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, known as Wuhan’s “sister city” has been deeply shaken by the outbreak and continues to send aid to relatives and friends trapped in the center of the deadly outbreak. Also, hundreds of Americans evacuated from Wuhan and arrived on military bases across the world for quarantine until further notice. Countless other citizens of the United States who have recently traveled to China report isolating themselves for periods of at least two weeks.
Though the coronavirus can be deadly, most of the patients receiving care in the United States were said to be doing well. No deaths were reported. At least three of the people
diagnosed in California had isolated themselves at home and were not hospitalized, while others were being treated in hospitals.
Even as American officials took steps to limit travel from China and screen those who arrived, additional coronavirus diagnoses were expected. “More cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States,” the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on its website. “It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States.”
Men with ties to Arizona State University and the University of Massachusetts Boston were diagnosed with coronavirus after returning from Wuhan. Both patients were said to be recovering in isolation, but the possibility of exposure on campus has rattled some students across the country.
At Miami University in Ohio, where two students were tested for coronavirus, two basketball games were canceled because of health concerns. Days later, those students tested negative for the virus.
“On occasions like this, it is possible for fear to get the better of any of us,” said Katherine S. Newman, the interim chancellor at Massachusetts Boston, in a letter to students after the diagnosis on her campus was announced. “Let’s remember that viruses are no one’s fault, and anyone can find themselves ill.”