Thoughts & Essays

Coronavirus Update

Don’t. Panic.

I feel like I have to say that first, because there’s been a lot of online panicking lately. Saw some in a local Facebook group this morning, paired with outrageous misinformation.

So. First thing: Don’t panic. There’s nothing worth panicking about yet, and also it’s not going to do you any good.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus outbreak a “global health emergency.” WHO makes these declarations to galvanize funding and cooperative efforts among various nations to get the disease contained. The three criteria for declaring an outbreak a global health emergency are:

  1. It’s an extraordinary event,
  2. It’s a public health risk to other nations because it’s spreading internationally,
  3. And that it might need an international response to deal with it.

Please note that none of those criteria have anything to do with how deadly a disease is, how contagious it is, how dangerous any particular thing is… nothing like that. A global health emergency is declared because something new or unusual is happening and everyone needs to work together to sort it out.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed the first case of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in the United States. A woman in Illinois who caught the disease while in Wuhan, China, has transmitted the disease to her husband.

According to the 2019-nCoV Global Cases dashboard put together by Johns Hopkins CSSE, there are currently 8,235 cases of the coronavirus worldwide (but mainly in China, which has 8,124 cases), and 171 people have died of it.

Buzzfeed News has a running list of misinformation relating to the coronavirus. Buzzfeed News is actually really good at these misinformation lists, so don’t scoff. You can follow the author of the article on Twitter for more misinformation updates.

With misinformation spreading wildly across the Internet, a good question is, “What do we actually know about the Wuhan coronavirus?”

  • Symptoms can include a cough, possibly with a fever and shortness of breath. There’s some reports of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, too, but they’re not sure about those.
  • Seems to be lasting a few days for many people, but the elderly, very young, or folks with a weakened immune system might develop complications like bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • There’s no treatment or vaccine for the virus yet. Treatment right now is “supportive,” IE, the hospital gives you fluids and symptom relief while you beat the virus on your own.
  • “In the US, the average person is at extremely low risk of catching this novel coronavirus.” (However, it is flu season, by which I mean Influenza, which you can catch very easily and which can kill your ass, so get your damn flu shot.)
  • Wash your hands, sneeze/cough into your elbow, stay away from people with respiratory symptoms, and stay home if you have a fever. Also, try not to touch your face with your hands, especially your nose, eyes, and mouth.