In the U.S. alone, coronavirus deaths have passed 55,000, with over 980,000 confirmed cases. Worldwide, more than 200,000 people have died, with 2.95 million confirmed cases as of today.
In early March of 2020, The World Health Organization declared this coronavirus—COVID-19—a global pandemic.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new coronavirus, a type of respiratory illness, that was first identified in Wuhan, China. As defined by the WHO, “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses transmitting between animals and people that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV).” After an incubation period of 2-14 days, symptoms may include, but are not limited to: fever, cough, shortness of breath, aches/pains, runny nose, nasal congestion, fatigue, diarrhea, and loss of taste or smell.
What is Being Done?
Because COVID-19 has a high rate of infection, with its R0 (the average number of people one infected person will infect) being estimated from 2.2 to 5.7, strict social distancing and quarantine measures have been implemented worldwide. Over 70 countries have enforced national lockdowns, including France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and Germany. In the U.S., lockdowns have been up to state governments, and although many have mandated strict stay-at-home orders, others have not. All this is being done in an effort to “flatten the curve,” which means reducing the number of people needing treatment at the same time so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed. Italy’s hospitals, for example, were so overrun by COVID-19 patients that their doctors were forced to pick which patients to save, ultimately choosing to prioritize the young.
What About a Vaccine?
At the moment, many companies, universities, and health institutions are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19—and some have even begun human trials already—but, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said, it could take at least 12 to 18 months for the U.S. to get a coronavirus vaccine.
Ultimately, we can only do our personal best to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic—wash your hands, physically distance, stay connected with loved ones via calls and texts, take up a new hobby, catch up on family time, exercise, take breaks from the news, and always find time to relax. We will make it through this together.