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COVID-19 Goes Viral

The Coronavirus pandemic is going viral all over the globe. With more than 2.1 million confirmed cases worldwide, the public is paranoid of the sudden dangerous disease, and scientists are keeping careful watch of the spread of COVID-19, aka the coronavirus.

The coronavirus is not a new virus. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. A novel coronavirus (nCov) is a new strain that has been identified in humans. This iteration of the virus, COVID-19, has been traced to originating in bats, and it’s origin is Wuhan, China.

As of April 15, there have been at least 133 thousand deaths due to the disease since Jan. 2020 (according to the World Health Organization). Majority of the deaths had been focused in mainland China. Due to the Lunar New Year, there had been a lot of travel in and out of China around the time the virus began spreading. This may be a reason the virus spread quickly worldwide.

At least 190 total countries have seen confirmed cases of COVID-19. In the U.S., there have been over 650,000 recorded cases as of Apr 16. The U.S. now has reached the most total cases of COVID-19 in the world in any country, hitting over 636 thousand.

In southern California, there has been the first case of a “community spread” virus in the US, meaning the sick person had not been anywhere known to have the virus, and had not been in contact with anyone who had the virus.

“That suggests the virus is out there in the community, and that means pretty much that everybody’s at risk,” Dr. Dean Blumberg, an infectious disease specialist at UC Davis Medical Center, told CNN. “We don’t know who might be carrying it. We don’t know who we can get it from.”

Symptoms of the coronavirus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

The virus can be spread as easily as the common cold through uncovered coughs or sneezes from those infected, saliva, contact with others that have the virus.

Since the virus still remains partially unknown to doctors and scientists, and there is no current preventative vaccination, and there will likely not be one widely available until 2021. One of the most common measures taken to prevent spreading the virus has been the quarantining of people with the disease. 

However, quarantining can lead to the spread of the virus, such as the case of the Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers. 712 cases of the coronavirus stemmed from at least one person on that ship being infected, which led to a quarantining of the ship. 12 passengers on the ship died as of April 16. 644 have recovered.

Many schools, universities, and school systems are closing or shutting down in this panic. In Howard County, out of state travel has been suspended for teachers and students, including field trips, conferences,and performances. Towson University forced students to do online classes and work, and required students living on campus to evacuate with their online classes beginning on March 23. 

Morgan State University on March 17 ended face-to-face instruction for the rest of their semester and postponed their May commencement. All students were evacuated from the campus, and Morgan State will be issuing pro-rated refunds for unused housing and meal-plan fees for those displaced from university-sponsored housing. It is unknown when face-to-face teaching will return for either of these schools.

In Maryland 10,784 people have contracted the Coronavirus as of April 16, with 2,451 of them being hospitalized. 384 people have died from the pandemic statewide. Howard County alone has 451 cases with 10 deaths as of April 16. 58,843 people have been tested for the Coronavirus in Maryland as of April 16.

Tests for COVID-19 are available in America for around $3,000, and there’s still a reported shortage. It is reportedly difficult to receive results of the tests, and making the testing kits takes a longer time than it takes to send them out.

In terms of preventing the spread of the disease, the World Health Organization recommends regular hand-washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing/sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, and minimizing contact with people who are infected with the virus.

“Hopefully there should be work on a vaccination, especially for countries that are more impacted by it,” said Mt. Hebron sophomore Isabella Maheu. “It’s always a little tricky when you don’t know how to treat something. I think that they [scientists] are doing the best that they can currently as they figure out further information as to how they can treat it going forward.”

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