COVID-19 Prompts Precautions

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably heard of coronavirus, a deadly disease that has made its way from Wuhan, China all around the world. Officially named COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019), this virus spreads through sneezing/coughing, and through physical contact such as a handshake. Coronavirus is a family of diseases/viruses that effect respiratory systems of organisms, typically only infecting animals. However, this form of coronavirus, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has somehow transferred from animals to humans. Scientists are baffled at this transition and are still formulating hypotheses as to how this occurred. Some believe bats to be the culprit behind the spread of this epidemic among humans, others believe it to be the pangolin, a type of scaly anteater endangered in China smuggled for its meat and scales. Despite these theories, people are sure that the virus came out of Wuhan, China, most likely from the Huanan Seafood Market. However, regardless of which animal spread the disease to humans or where it came from, the reality is that this virus has the ability to jump from person to person via physical contact or inhaling it from a sneeze, and so, people need to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from this rampant disease.  

Believe it or not, but this is not the first coronavirus outbreak, there have been two previous ones. The first one occurred in 2003 in Asia, this outbreak led to the deaths of about 800 people. In 2012, a new coronavirus spread in the Middle East causing about 500 deaths over the course of 6 years. However, this recent virus that has come out of Wuhan has lasted only 3 months and has already infected about 82,500 people, killing nearly 3,000 people. COVID-19 has already caused more deaths than its previous coronavirus pathogens, and it is expected to keep spreading and taking more lives in its path. However, it is notable to mention that perhaps people have taken an alarmist approach to the sudden spread of this disease. In this year alone, the flu has already taken more lives than COVID-19 (about 5,000 as oppose to 3,000). So, maybe people aren’t scared because of the death toll from this disease, rather because coronavirus has been the only thing news outlets have been reporting for the past month, causing people to think that it is Ebola 2.0. In reality, coronavirus is just a variation of the flu that has been transferred from animals to humans. Despite this rational evaluation of the virus, due to the alarmist approach of popularizing it, coronavirus has affected the economy and the way people live (for example not traveling to China, or wearing medical masks in public).  

Coronavirus has already spread to the United States, meaning more people are bound to get infected by this virus. So, the big question is, “What will happen if coronavirus reaches New Jersey, or even West Orange?” If this happens, there is a possibility that schools will close (including SHP) because it is a very contagious virus. In case you were wondering, symptoms of coronavirus are identical to that of the common cold: fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, these symptoms can progress into bronchitis and pneumonia which are lethal to humans. Coronavirus poses the greatest threat to young children, pregnant women, people older than 65, and people who already have chronic health problems. People with functioning immune systems should be able to shake off the virus in a few days. So, is there a possibility of coronavirus affecting us people from New Jersey? Yes. Are we all going to die if it spreads here? Not likely, healthy teens or adults will simply feel like they caught the common cold for a few days. However, older people, pregnant women, and babies should take extra precautions.