Coronavirus Spreads Panic

With 2,177 confirmed cases in the United States at press time, Covid-19 (aka “The Coronavirus”) is causing fear in many Americans.

Coronaviruses are a group of RNA viruses that colonize the respiratory tracts. The four most common coronaviruses are not very serious. They infect the upper respiratory tract and cause the common cold.

In the past, there have been two outbreaks of more serious coronaviruses, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2002 and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in 2012. These are called novel coronaviruses and they infect the lower respiratory tract, essentially causing a severe viral pneumonia. Covid-19, this current outbreak, is also a novel coronavirus.

Doris Neumeyer R.N, B.S.N. is a certified epidemiology nurse who has been deployed as a staff nurse with a Disaster Medical Assistance Team in response to the Covid-19.

“Fears regarding Covid 19 (recently named this from 2019 n-Coronavirus) come from thinking that we do not know much about it,”  Neumeyer said. “When you look at other illnesses that are similar to it (in the same ‘family’) and we know about, we can apply that knowledge to Covid 19. People should fear influenza more than Covid 19, as it infects and kills millions more than all the novel corona viruses together have.”

Sarah Carden MLS (ASCP) MPH is an epidemiologist at Troy Beaumont Hospital.

“The Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, so the recommendations to prevent illness are very similar to other respiratory viruses, like the flu,” Carden said. “The steps you can take to protect yourself from illness include washing your hands, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth and avoiding close contact with sick individuals. Symptoms of the virus can be seen between 2-14 days after an individual has been exposed. The incubation of the virus has been based on the MERS-CoV, as the Center for Disease Control is still learning more about the current virus.”

The Coronavirus has gotten the world’s attention as it is discussed on the news all over the world.

“I myself am not afraid of getting the coronavirus, but I am afraid of being a carrier and passing it on to someone who is more likely to get a bad case of it,” Lindsay Lewis ‘22 said. “Lately I have been washing my hands more often and using hand sanitizers if I can not wash my hands. In general people need to be cautious about what they are doing in order to protect themselves and their families. Just continue to make sure you do not touch your face and you wash your hands. I do believe that people are taking some things too far, for example buying stores out of everything that is needed. People need to think about others too in a time like this.”

It is very hard to get accurate information during an outbreak. Most numbers are done in retrospect. Statistics are counted only after an outbreak. It is nearly impossible to get accurate death and infected counts as people continue to get sick and/or die. The prevalent focus is keeping people alive, not keeping statistics. That being said, despite the 16 confirmed active cases in Michigan, the danger of dying for a high schooler in Michigan is relatively low. Someone who is in relatively good health and does not smoke has less than one percent chance of dying from Covid-19.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced closures of all Michigan public schools until April 6, and has banned any large public gatherings such as churches and sporting events.

A map with regularly updating counts of reported illness cases, deaths and recoveries can be found on the John Hopkins University Website.