Jim was going to take his husband out dancing. He wanted to go out to the clubs and experience what he thought he’d experienced when he was single…minus the flirting and possibly drinking to excess. He wasn’t going to let a virus scare him into staying home. He knew that the gay scene itself had changed due to his age, but he didn’t care. He was looking for the one night where he and his partner could go out and become enthralled with the music and dance until they worked up a sweat. Maybe they would leave by 12:30 and be home by 1:00. But in the back of his mind the thought of the corona virus setting up shop in America. And he wasn’t ready to conform to a life of being indoors for a prolonged period of time.
The problem was evident. How is the corona virus changing the landscape of America? We know that the virus is here, and it seems at least for the moment that it’s here to stay. Jim is HIV positive and isn’t sure how this virus will impact his life. He wasn’t sure if he should be doing the things that he enjoyed doing before the virus invaded America and subsequently, his life. He wasn’t sure what to believe as the government or rather, the president came across the local airwaves and proceeded to give misinformation about the virus. In the end, some people were confused and unsure of what to do.
This did not stop people from making a mad dash to the market and clearing out the aisle that contained bread as well as the adjacent aisle that held paper products. And when he picked up the few things that he needed at the store, he wondered how his world would change.
The scary part about all of this is that he has deliberately chosen to tune out the words of the president despite how somewhat presidential he sounds. Instead, he pays attention to the health experts that he has surrounded himself with. He’s finding that most of his family members and people that are in his social circle are doing the same thing. He knows that there is no sense in panicking. That will not accomplish anything because like it or not, the world is changing. Instead, he sought some information that we are willing to share with you. Some of it is common sense and others may be new to you. But after doing some searching, this is what we found:
1.What is the coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, some of which can infect people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces.
What is a novel coronavirus?
A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2019 novel coronavirus is SARS-CoV-2, named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. It first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by a novel member of the coronavirus family — SARS-CoV-2 — that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.
There is still much to learn about the disease. Globally, about 3.4% of people infected with COVID-19 have died. At greater risk are people with chronic health conditions and the elderly. For perspective, flu cases currently dwarf the number of COVID-19 cases, although the death rate is less than .1%.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19, caused by novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, include respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, it can cause pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome.
How can I prevent getting the new coronavirus?
The World Health Organization has the following recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including the new coronavirus:
- Frequently clean your hands by using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue. Then throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.
- If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share your travel history with your healthcare provider.
- Avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products. Handle raw meat, milk, and animal organs with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, per good food safety practices.
Should I wear a mask?
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with a suspected COVID-19 infection, according to the World Health Organization. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask to protect others and seek medical care.
The WHO states that a medical mask is not required if you are healthy, as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons. However, masks might be worn in some countries according to local cultural habits. If masks are used, best practices should be followed on how to wear, remove, and dispose of them and on hand hygiene action after removal.
Can antibiotics prevent and treat the new coronavirus?Like the common cold, there is no specific antibiotic or medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. But people infected should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive medical care, which may include antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.
BACK TO QUESTIONS
How did the new coronavirus start?The National Health Commission in China informed the WHO on Jan. 11 that the new coronavirus outbreak is linked with exposure to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are common in people and many species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rarely, animal coronaviruses infect people and then spread person-to-person, such as with MERS, SARS, and this new coronavirus. All three of these viruses are betacoronaviruses, which have their origins in bats.
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How are governments trying to control the spread of the virus?The Chinese government has taken extraordinary measures to control the spread of the new coronavirus, both within the country and across borders. Wuhan and many other cities are in lockdown, affecting over 51 million people. The government has suspended transportation and launched a massive program to ramp up the number of hospital beds.
The World Health Organization has also been working with the Chinese government and others to track the spread of the disease and advise health authorities. Many airlines have stopped flying to China, and in countries where cases have been identified, people infected are being isolated for treatment and monitoring.
As countries and communities respond to the virus by closing schools and places of work and imposing quarantines, along with people limiting public interaction, it is children and the very poor who will be greatly impacted. Any loss of work for people who survive on minimal earnings will have a devastating impact on household incomes where people survive from day to day. The price of food and goods is also likely to rise as shortages emerge and people begin to hoard supplies. The very poorest won’t be able to stock up in the same way, and the loss of earnings will make it very hard for them to feed their children.
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What is the difference between an outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic?When even one case of COVID-19 is diagnosed in a new location and determined to be locally transmitted, it is an outbreak. When it spreads rapidly to many people, that is an epidemic. A pandemic occurs when it spreads globally.
According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic can occur when three conditions have been met:
- A disease emerges which is new to the population.
- The virus infects humans, causing serious illness.
- The virus spreads easily and sustainably among humans. Most people will not have immunity to the virus.
Viruses that have caused past pandemics typically originated from animal influenza viruses. The 2009 swine flu pandemic is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people. With no vaccine currently available, containing the spread of COVID-19 is vital.
Although the seasonal flu can spread globally, the mortality rate is typically much lower and a much larger number of people have immunity.
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How is World Vision responding to the coronavirus-caused disease pandemic around the world?World Vision teams worldwide, and particularly across Asia, are doing all they can to keep children, families, and their communities safe. In China, World Vision aims to support nearly 1.3 million people at an estimated cost of $4.7 million. World Vision will not only respond to the rapid increase in the emergent needs for protective and hygiene items, but also to the needs for psychosocial support and future preparedness.
“Time is of the essence,” says John Teng, the national director for World Vision in China. “… China faces one of the biggest crises it has seen in recent history.”
World Vision is working in collaboration with local authorities, hospitals, academic institutions, and other humanitarian organizations, prioritizing the response to the needs of children, their families, and their communities, as well as local health workers.
“With many cities on lockdown and livelihoods affected in many situations, it’s critical to ensure that people have the resources and knowledge to be able to care for themselves and their families, especially as children are vulnerable in such situations,” John says.
Our response includes providing face masks to communities and health workers, distributing hand sanitizers and other personal hygiene items, and supporting efforts by local health authorities, schools, and local partners to communicate stay-safe health messages.
World Vision staff member Che Zifa helped distribute surgical masks to a rural community in Honghe County on Feb. 3. Honghe County is located more than 700 miles southwest of Wuhan, China, epicenter of the pandemic. “Although we all wore masks, we still felt nervous,” Che says.
World Vision is also working on a global preparedness plan with all its offices.
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How is World Vision responding in the U.S.?World Vision warehouses in Washington state, New York City, Chicago, Texas, West Virginia, and Connecticut are stocking up on items that its partner network of churches, schools, community- and other faith-based organizations can use to prevent infections. These supplies include liquid and bar soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, face masks, and disposable bed sheets. We are also collecting emergency protective supplies for immediate distribution to over 900,000 children, school staff, and parents. Staff members also are working on procuring additional supplies for which the demand is highest, such as disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
How is the pandemic affecting World Vision’s operations?
World Vision staff are closely monitoring the situation, which is changing by the day. We are providing travel guidance for staff as well as health information designed to keep them safe. We will also observe government and local authority health guidance, which may at times prohibit travel or require people to work from home.
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What are World Vision’s concerns for children and communities we work with?Countries with effective health systems are in a much better position to monitor, identify, and treat those with the respiratory disease, as well as to prevent its spread. We are most concerned about countries where the health systems and monitoring are weak, where people may already be suffering from diseases that are common among the poor, such as malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV and AIDS, and Ebola, or where severe malnutrition compromises immune systems. People living in these contexts are at much greater risk.
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Have any sponsored children been diagnosed with COVID-19?Although the respiratory disease is present in areas where World Vision has existing development projects, no sponsored children have been infected to date. World Vision is working diligently to keep children safe.
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Novel coronavirus and COVID-19 timeline
- Dec. 31: In Wuhan, China, reports surface of people with pneumonia due to an unknown cause. Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, national authorities in China report 44 cases to the World Health Organization.
- Jan. 11: The National Health Commission in China informs the WHO that the outbreak is linked with exposure to the seafood and live animal market in Wuhan. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities identify a novel (new) coronavirus.
- Jan. 12: Chinese health officials share the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus for countries to use in developing specific diagnostic kits.
- Jan. 21: The WHO confirms 314 cases of the novel coronavirus. Of those, 309 are in China, two are in Thailand, one is in Japan, one is in the Republic of Korea, and one is in the United States. The death toll in Wuhan rises to six. Many people affected have underlying health issues, according to Reuters. The CDC confirms that a person in Washington state who returned from Wuhan on Jan. 15 tested positive for the respiratory disease.
- Jan. 24: Reported cases increase to 846 around the world. The majority, 830 cases, are in China, and 11 are outside of China. Singapore and Vietnam report their first cases, and a second case is identified in the U.S. — a person who lives in Illinois and recently visited Wuhan. The death toll increases to 25.
- Jan. 25: The WHO confirms 1,320 cases globally. Australia, Nepal, and France report their first cases. A third U.S. case is identified in Orange County, California — a person who had recently traveled to Wuhan. Forty-one people have died so far, all in China.
- Jan. 28: The total global cases jump to 4,593, with 4,537 in China. The death toll increases to 106, and three more countries — Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Germany — report cases.
- WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping and commends China’s “seriousness and transparency” in response to the outbreak.
- An airliner with about 210 U.S. citizens, mostly consulate personnel and their families, leaves Wuhan for the United States. Officials with the CDC recommend avoiding all travel to China and expand airport health screenings to 20 U.S. locations.
- Scientists in Australia become the first to recreate the new coronavirus outside of China.
- Jan. 29: There is now a total of 6,065 cases around the world and 132 deaths. The United Arab Emirates reports its first four cases.
- WHO Director-General Tedros calls for the emergency committee to reconvene to again discuss if they should declare a public health emergency of international concern.
- The plane carrying U.S. citizens arrives at March Air Reserve Base in California. Passengers exhibiting symptoms are transported to a hospital, while those who are symptom-free are asked to stay on base for further screening.
- Jan. 30: The global case totals jump to 7,818, and with China reports accounting for 7,736. Of the cases in China, 1,370 are severe, and 170 people have died. Outside of China, there have been 82 cases identified in 18 different countries. The WHO reports cases in Malaysia, the Philippines, India, and Finland. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirms Italy has its first two cases during a press conference.
- The CDC confirms the first human-to-human transmission in the United States. The patient, a man in his 60s living in Illinois, is the spouse of a woman who recently visited Wuhan and was diagnosed with the disease on Jan. 24. President Donald Trump announces the formation of a coronavirus task force to lead America’s response to the outbreak.
- The WHO emergency committee makes a nearly unanimous decision to declare a public health emergency of international concern.
- Feb. 5: The U.S. State Department has commissioned evacuation flights of U.S. citizens and their families out of from China and has placed repatriated Americans under quarantine. All the passengers will be under federal quarantine orders for 14 days.
- Feb. 11: The WHO names the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it. Co and Vi comes from coronavirus, with D referring to disease and 19 representing 2019, the year the first cases were seen, according to the WHO.
- Feb. 14: A Chinese tourist who tested positive for COVID-19 dies in France, becoming the first person to die in the outbreak in Europe. That same day, Egyptian officials announce their first case of COVID-19, according to a joint statement by Egypt’s Ministry of Health and the WHO. This is the first confirmed case in Africa.
- March 11: The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic.
- March 12: The global case total of the COVID-19 pandemic reaches more than 128,000 people globally, with the death toll now at more than 4,700 people.
- Travel bans cascade around the globe.
- Wall Street suffers its worst day since 1987 as virus fears spread.
- Many events across the U.S. are canceled or postponed. Many universities and schools temporarily shut down or move to online learning. Professional and collegiate sports seasons were also affected, including the NBA, NHL, MLB, Major League Soccer, and the NCAA, who canceled the annual March Madness basketball tournament.
- March 16: Coronavirus vaccine testing begins in the U.S. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine wouldn’t be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, says Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Heather Klinger and Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.
Editor's note: I did not come up with the statistics of this article. The statistics written belong to Heather Klinger and Kathryn Reid of World Visions staff in the US.