“Chinese scientists say there’s a second, more dangerous coronavirus strain” – media

“Dr. Anthony Fauci says complete US shutdown is ‘on the table’ and warns the crisis could last TWO MONTHS” – media

“New Presidential Election, New Virus #Fake” – facebook people
“Less deadly than the flu #StupidIsAsStupidDoes” – facebook people
“Suddenly the government controls everything. #NoLongerAFreeCountry” – facebook people

Headlines are always designed to grab and influence the reader in a significant way, but what happens when the headlines tell less of the story than the actual story? I think we’ve seen the fruit of that recently with toilet paper and groceries coupled with complaining and ridicule. While each of the above media headlines may have some degree of truth or probability in them the context is in the details of the corresponding stories. That is, often the true context in the story doesn’t support the stand-alone statement of the headline. On the flip side we have celebrities and individuals on social media spatting out any meme or statement in complete and utter denial, to full on criticism, and naturally conspiracies of politics at play. These two polar opposite responses do little to service the people who encounter them. As with most issues we face the truth and answers likely lie in the middle ground.

In a multi day and on-going search for the answers to questions about the pandemic we apparently face, I asked the questions: How dangerous is this virus really? What is the difference between death rate and probability of death? Why are multiple governments willing to venture into unprecedented reactions to combat this virus? While I wont delve into full details about the answers because you’d stop reading it about a 1/4 of the way through I will share some summaries. I myself feel like the medical facts do point to this strain of Coronavirus being more significant than the flu. In fact scientists have a rating for infections diseases called R0  pronounced “R naught.” It’s a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. COVID-19 is as a matter of science more contagious that Influenza. It is also scientifically more deadly that Influenza. True, Coronavirus isn’t new in fact it was first identified and categorized in the 1960’s. However, There are currently six known strains of Coronaviruses that infect humans. The strain we are battling now is not like previous strains, it is new. Much in the same way that some years of Influenza are better or worse than other years this strain of Coronavirus (SARS CoV2, or COVID-19) is more significant than its predecessors.

Does all that merit the response we’ve seen in the media and from governments? It is so tough to say. Let’s be real, it is far more likely than not that the actions being taken will greatly reduce the probability of significant cases for most otherwise healthy people and in fact save lives. Till now I’ve done my best to take a back seat on this because of how unprecedented the global response has been on this strain. We may very well face state border closures and even a 2-3 week quarantine for non-essential persons in the coming days. Or albeit unlikely could blow over by this time 2 weeks from now, it’s so tough to speculate. Then we have the response.

People needed a 14-30 day supply of things but instead they’ve hoarded everything creating what has now become the immediate bigger issue for many households across the country. There is speculation that it could be upwards of 3-5 months before retailers can replenish many household ‘staples’. We don’t know really, it’s all speculation at this point. So much seems to hinge on the coming weeks. Personally I’m less worried about the virus [easy to say as someone who isn’t over 70] than I am anxious for retail to demonstrate their ability to recover so that the rest of the population who didn’t “freak out” or otherwise doomsday prep years prior can get the items they need for their households. That to me will be as big if not the bigger test.

So is the virus is all bunk then? No one in good faith can say that, too many families have been touched by the severity of the virus from losses to intrusions in their lives and activities. It’s also a gripping fact to consider that literally 9 days ago in the United states there were only 200 cases and today there are over 2,800. Even as I write this in the comfort of my home far from big cities in a safe quiet neighborhood on a mountain I just got a text from a friend who is in a position to confirm that a person in Clarksville, AR has now been hospitalized from COVID-19. It spreads fast and there is a fatal factor. Most of us if handed a piece of candy and told “there’s a 3%+- chance that you’ll die if you eat this” are going to promptly throw it out.

On the positive side, the World Health Organization says those who become infected generally experience mild illness and recover in about two weeks. I read the story and interview of 29 year old Bridget Wilkins on the site DailyMail just earlier today who contracted the virus while traveling. The woman describes her symptoms as feeling jet lagged, ‘The message I’d like to put out to the world is that maybe someone has it already, and it’s very common symptoms, like a headache, or a sore throat or just being tired,’ she said. ‘(I thought) I had those symptoms because I’d just traveled 30-plus hours. I’ve still got those symptoms, but nothing more than that… I thought I had jetlag.’

Obviously we can’t tell anyone what to do or how to feel and the second we overplay or downplay this, or speculate as to where we’ll go from here we will look like absolute fools. I just wan’t to encourage the people identifying more with the “doomsday” crowd and those who identify more with the “naysayer” crowd to explore that middle ground. Yes it is serious but we’re going to be alright and we can be grateful that we live in a nation with the medical system we have and with leaders that value even just a few of our lives (by percentage) to make the hard decisions.

Continue reading for Symptoms/Prevention/And When to Seek Medical Care

SYMPTOMS CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 (COVID-19)*

Illness can be more severe for some people and can lead to viral pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.

from the CDC:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

from the WHO:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing (severe cases)

 

PREVENTION

from the CDC:

  • Know How it Spreads – There is currently no vaccine, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus spreads mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another (about 6 feet). It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, or sneezing.
  • IF soap and water are not available (the preferred method), use a hand sanitzer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. Especially if you are higher risk.
  • If you are sick, stay home except to get medical care, cover coughs and sneezes, immediately wash your hands, wear a facemask (IF you are not sick you do not need a facemask unless caring for someone who is sick).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Clean surfaces with soap and water first then disinfect.

from the WHO:

  • Clean hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow.
  • Avoid close contact (3 feet) with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms

WHAT IF I’M SICK

Call your doctor. If you suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Call ahead: If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19.  This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Stay at home for 7 days: Other than to seek medical treatment stay home if you have a fever or new and continuous cough. Testing for the virus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

If you have trouble breathing: If you have difficulty breathing at any time you should definitely contact your healthcare provider or cover your face and seek medical attention – call ahead when possible.