While it might seem impossible that there’s something in the news bigger than the Democratic presidential primary or the latest stunt President Trump has pulled in the White House, it seems that all of that has been upstaged by a microscopic bug.
You might know it as the coronavirus, but its official name is SARS-CoV-2, which creates a flu-like illness now known as COVID-19. The illness name, according to Johns Hopkins University, is broken down to where “COVI” stands for “coronavirus,” “D” is “disease,” and the “19” is the year it was first identified.
Contracting this virus could develop symptoms like cough or fever, or worse, pneumonia. It’s also killed thousands of people, mostly in China that has become ground zero for the disease. But still, lives that are lost.
While a fast-spreading virus like this should certainly be watched, many in the media have stirred the pot hard, to the point some people are even afraid to leave the house. Yes, precautions are necessary, but there is absolutely no need to panic just yet.
As of Friday, the death toll for COVID-19 was 2,861 based on 83,694 confirmed cases in 53 countries, according to the World Health Organization. Roughly, that’s a mortality rate of a little more than 3 percent. While a lower death rate might suggest a disease that can spread faster and easier, it also says something else very important — if you contract the virus that causes COVID-19, your chances of surviving are 97 percent.
Older people, and anyone with compromised health, absolutely are at risk. But if you’re younger and not battling any serious health conditions, even suffering from COVID-19 should not be a final battle.
Even as cases pop up in the United States — including the one in Westchester County that reportedly closed SAR High School as a precaution on Tuesday — we should avoid panic. The WHO also suggests we should avoid myths surrounding the outbreak as well. And that means no, hand dryers won’t kill the virus. UV lamps should not be used for your hands. And it’s perfectly safe to receive packages or buy goods from China.
What you should do is wash your hands frequently. Keep a good distance from anyone coughing or sneezing. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands. If you feel like you’re starting to get sick, see a doctor right away.
And while it might seem like a great idea to wear a medical mask when you go outside, the WHO asks that unless you have compromised health or are showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, don’t wear them. Don’t exhaust the supply and take away masks from those who actually need them.
Finally, if nothing else, avoid any media reports that look to sensationalize this viral outbreak. Arm yourself with facts, and don’t get carried away.
We haven’t reached the end of the world. At least not yet.