In the areas where Coronavirus, Ebola or Zika is the most active, there are several organizations keeping an eye on the virus, ready to report any big changes.
The latest life threatening virus outbreak in 2020 is the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The respiratory infection, which is closely related to SARS and MERS, spread across China and now cases have been diagnosed in numerous other countries, including the United States.
On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19.
Chinese officials shut down all public transportation including buses, subways, trains, and the airport, affecting 35 million people. Factories were shut down as people were afraid to get out in public, resulting in global economic issues as products sat in shipping containers on China’s docks, not being shipped.
Tracking the Pandemic
Since I began tracking this and writing about it, the numbers change daily… sometimes dramatically, even doubling in one or two days. The majority of cases were inside China initially, but the spread outside China is exploding.
When I began writing about this, the so-called authorities like the WHO and CDC had not yet defined this outbreak as a pandemic (meaning it is an epidemic of disease that has spread across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide,). So far coronavirus cases have been confirmed in China, Italy, Korea, Iran, 109 countries, and in the United States. Outside China, coronavirus has infected more than 32,778 in 109 countries resulting in 872 deaths. Technically, that’s a pandemic.
The word “pandemic” stems from the Greek words “pan” (meaning “all”) and “demos” (meaning “people”). Thus, a pandemic is a widespread infectious disease, bacteria, or virus that sickens a large number of people worldwide. When a disease or illness is isolated to one region or country, it’s called an “epidemic.”
The World Health Organization said recently that it remained “too early” to declare an international public health emergency over the outbreak “given its restrictive and binary nature”. How much larger does this COVID-19 outbreak need to reach before officials call it a pandemic?
Despite the lethargy of the WHO, President Trump took action in America banning travel from China on Jan. 31st.
The World Health Organization finally announced on Mar. 11, 2020 the COVID-19 viral disease that has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people is now officially a pandemic.
WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros, went on to emphasize, we can turn the tide of this pandemic if countries are willing to detect, test, treat, isolate, trace, and mobilize their people in their response, those countries detecting a few cases can prevent them from becoming clusters and can prevent those cluster from becoming community transmission. He says we must focus on four key areas:
- Prepare and be ready
- Detect, protect, and treat
- Reduce transmission
- Innovate and learn
Although the U.S. government did ban travel from China pretty early on, I’m not convinced the U.S. followed the WHO suggestions and have fallen short despite what President Trump and other politicians say. Clearly, the U.S. was not prepared and was slow to detect, protect, and treat. Once they did begin testing, they were forced to ramp up their efforts and begin to attempt to reduce transmission as more states reported cases of COVID-19. I do believe the U.S. will begin to innovate and I’m sure we will all learn more about infectious disease.
While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, they continue to downplay the pandemic and says the immediate health risk from COVID-19 to the general American public is considered low at this time. They cite their “aggressive containment measures” and the low number of confirmed cases in the U.S. as they are doing everything they can to prevent the American public from panicking.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the public the virus has been “contained” inside the U.S. by “aggressive containment measures”. Yet, at the same time he and CDC officials admit it is likely there may be an outbreak in the U.S. and community mitigation programs may need be invoked.
Early in March, we saw what that “community mitigation program” might look like. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared New Rochelle to be the “most significant cluster (of the novel coronavirus) in the country” after a surge of new cases was recently identified there. Consequently, he’s decided to deploy National Guard troops to a Health Department command post there where they will then establish a one-mile, two-week containment area around the city.
What eventually came to America is what we’ve seen elsewhere around the world. China closed its borders. Italy closed its borders. Air travel into and out of cities across the globe are being impacted. Citizens are being warned NOT to board cruise ships. Israel announced all travelers arriving in Israel from abroad will have to spend 14 days in home isolation.
One common thread I’ve heard from almost all official channels as well as alternative sources is the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak overwhelming our health care system. As more people are tested and more cases require hospitalization, there could be a shortage of needed beds in hospitals. Besides that, as more health care workers are infected with COVID-19, there could also become a shortage of doctors and nurses available to provide health care services.
Don’t Test… Don’t Tell
It seems the CDC’s strategy is to avoid testing anyone as a way to avoid reporting confirmed infections. In fact, the CDC has released a coronavirus testing flow chart that quite literally prohibits any testing of Americans who have been infected in the United States:
As you can see from the chart, any American showing symptoms but who didn’t travel from China and who doesn’t realize they’ve had any close contact with an infected person will NOT be tested for the coronavirus. According to the CDC website, they have only tested 426 individuals. 3 months into the pandemic, 47 U.S. states are testing ZERO people for coronavirus.
Based on this flawed and inaccurate information, American are being told coronavirus is no big deal because the numbers of infected and dead in America is quite low compared to other parts of the world. I believe the lack of factual information about COVID-19 is what drives fear.
Once testing eventually began in March, by March 10 the numbers of infected had skyrocketed to over 1,000 and will most likely double in the next week.
The public are told in the daily press conferences held by federal and state officials that testing is improving in the U.S. The reality on the ground is quite different. When, and if, they do ever get up to speed with their testing, it will be too little too late. Those countries like South Korea that did early massive testing are also showing fewer infections and deaths.
As this coronavirus spreads, you should closely watch the latest outbreaks. You need to track these outbreaks because when there is a potential pandemic, you need to know what’s going on.
Otherwise, you’re operating in the dark and you could end up accidentally heading into an area that’s become a hot zone. Getting caught in a quarantine zone is something you want to avoid. Staying informed of where you shouldn’t go can help protect your family.
Knowing what’s going on with the outbreak can clue you in as to whether or not you need to vacate your area.
I believe we can take clues from what’s happened in China, Italy, and elsewhere around the world as some impacted countries have experienced mandated quarantines, restricted movement, and disruptions of supply chains.
If an actual pandemic breaks out, expect the following to happen quickly:
- Travel within and especially between countries will be restricted if not completely banned.
We’ve seen this in the 1019-nCoV outbreak where flights into and out of China have been banned.
- Critical shortages of materials will develop, especially medical supplies, doubly especially antivirals.
Within hours after the first case of coronavirus was detected in the US, surgical masks reportedly began selling out in pharmacies and online. People are stockpiling masks and making “runs on pharmacies”. Large purchases of N95 masks are being made by Chinese visitors and companies, shipping them back to China, indicating China was ill-prepared for this event. Inventories of masks are all but gone at the online retailer, Amazon. And there are reports of speculators reselling N95 masks at highly inflated prices. Wholesale distributors have nearly tripled the cost of a box of medical masks.
- In cities with lockdowns or quarantines, food will disappear rapidly from shelves.
It’s recommended you stock up on food,fuel, batteries, and other goods to sustain you and your family for up to one month.
Since writing the above, each of these predictions have became reality.
While novel coronavirus has caught the attention of the world in recent weeks, I believe it’s important to keep this 1019-nCoV outbreak in perspective. I don’t want to downplay the importance of keeping track of this disease but I also want to point out there is a far more deadly disease in our midst. As of January 29, 2020, CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 15 million flu illnesses, 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths from flu.