Coronavirus takes toll on American life

Nicolas DePalma
staff writer

The coronavirus is sweeping the globe, though at a slower rate than the rumors and talk that surround it. The coronavirus is a term seemingly no one can go a day without hearing, and while it seems a looming, gray thundercloud threatening the end of humanity, the situation is not as dire as one may think.

The rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases of the virus is leading country leaders to instate travel restrictions and even city-wide quarantines. Schools are being closed, sometimes just for inspection and disinfection, others for indefinite amounts of time. “Nothing really has changed, [we just need to] make sure that we cough into our sleeve, and [be] mindful about mouth, nose and eyes,” student health room technician Unni Stokkevag said.

Stokkevag is sure proper steps will be taken if concerns rise. “The health department will probably make sure to give us guidance. I’m probably not too concerned. I think that this seems more like the flu,” she said.

According to an MCPS press release from Mar. 5, three confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in Maryland, though that number has risen to five as of Mar. 9. “We learned that the first 3 cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) that were identified in the state of Maryland are from Montgomery County. The patients are identified as a married couple in their 70s and an individual in their 50s. They contracted the virus while traveling overseas,” the release said.

As of the time of that message, MCPS stated that schools will stay open for the time being. However, county executives are preparing for the event they do have to close. “As we move forward, we are preparing for the possibility of school closures in the future should this become necessary. We encourage all MCPS families to remain vigilant through this situation and consult your health provider if you are experiencing symptoms that you may believe are related to the coronavirus,” the release said.

One of the confirmed cases was reported to have had contact with up to 100 people at a gathering at the Village at Rockville, a Montgomery County retirement home. The home is a popular volunteer site for students who may have visited the location recently. The Maryland Department of Health has determined any who attended the gathering to be at low risk, and any who did not attend to be at no risk. However, they do ask that anyone who experiences sudden changes in respiratory condition contact their healthcare provider immediately.

As governments become more concerned with stopping the spread of the virus–or at least preventing the passage of it into our out of their borders–the stock market is experiencing sudden downturns.

Stock investors’ fears are growing as the coronavirus outbreak begins to affect more than just people’s immune systems. The stock market is also seeing new downward trends as borders tighten and travel restrictions grow. “The S & P 500, which just last Wednesday reached a record high, slid 4.4 percent, its worst day since August 2011. The index is down 12 percent since that peak, entering what is known as a correction — a drop of at least 10 percent that signals a more significant sell-off than a few days of pessimistic trading,” Matt Philips of The New York Post said.

While the number of confirmed cases steadily grows, the death toll lags significantly far behind, most of those who die of the virus already having underlying health conditions. The virus is seen to cause symptoms resemblant of the flu. In fact, the term “coronavirus” is not one specific to this virus.

A coronavirus is more of an umbrella term meaning “any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of diseases in humans and other animals” according to Oxford. Moreover, scientists have given the virus a name more descriptive to the way it spreads and the symptoms it causes: COVID-19.

As the number of cases around the globe and in the US increases, people should be wary but not overly worried. A healthy person who contracts the virus will see a slim chance of anything worse than mild symptoms occurring. Those who have underlying health issues, are of old age or have weakened immune systems are the only people who may be at risk after contracting the virus. “Researchers from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention today describe the clinical findings on more than 72,000 COVID-19 cases reported in mainland China, which reveal a case-fatality rate (CFR) of 2.3% and suggest most cases are mild, but the disease hits the elderly the hardest,” Stephanie Soucheray of the University of Minnesota said.

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