A recent outbreak of a respiratory illness called coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, was discovered in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since its discovery, thousands of cases have been confirmed around the world and there have even been suspected cases here in Ohio.
This outbreak has gotten plenty of attention from the media, and it is easy to become worried or scared, but it’s also important to be educated on the facts about coronavirus so that one can know what to do to prevent the spread of the illness.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are dangerous because they can vary significantly by person and they might not seem harmful at first notice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state, “For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.”
In China, the virus has grown to be a significant problem. According to CNN, as of Feb. 18, COVID-19 has infected over 75,000 people and killed 2,009 people and the numbers are increasing by the day.
The situation has progressed to the point that on Jan. 27, the CDC recommended that all travel to China should be completely avoided unless it is essential.
While the illness is rapidly spreading in China, there are only 15 cases in the United States as of Feb. 17, according to the CDC. Two students were tested for coronavirus at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio but ultimately tested negative, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Evacuees from China coming to America must be quarantined for 14 days, according to the New York Times.
AP Environmental Science teacher, Jessica Timmons, does not think that students should be stressing about this recent outbreak.
“The mortality rate for coronavirus is still low. People should be talking about the flu,” she said.
Timmons brought up statistics of influenza infections and deaths from this past flu season in comparison to COVID-19 cases.
The CDC estimated that there have been 26-36 million flu illnesses and 14,000-36,000 flu deaths from Oct. 1, 2019 to Feb. 8, 2020. These numbers are just for the United States.
“It’s stupid that we are freaking out about coronavirus when the flu is already here and we have a vaccine for it,” Timmons said.
She offers the same advice for people worried about coronavirus as the CDC: “Get your flu shot!”
“If you want to avoid coronavirus, it's the same tactics as avoiding the flu: wash your hands, don’t go to school if you feel sick so you don’t infect others, and get vaccinated - a strong immune system is less likely to be infected by other things,” Timmons said.
Logan Shearer, a junior, is not concerned about coronavirus but still takes steps to ensure that he stays healthy.
“I’m more worried about other illnesses like the flu that kill people even though they are treatable and have vaccines,” Shearer said. “I make sure to eat right and I work out to stay healthy. I’m for anything to stay safe against getting sick.”
While coronavirus is a hot topic in the media, the statistics show that there are more pressing health matters at hand, and it never hurts to take precautions.