The Rise of COVID-19

Living through a global pandemic

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Living through a global pandemic

April 2020

story: kathryn chandra  design: shiyuan wang

COVID-19, more commonly known as the Coronavirus, has hampered the lives of the nation’s population and most of the world’s. As active members of society, students everywhere are susceptible to COVID-19 and are mandated to stay home, which is a drastic change from their normal, everyday lives. Students stuffed the remainder of their dorms, houses or apartments into the trunks of their cars, bid adieu to their friends and hopefully settled into using Zoom for online classes, while being quarantined at home. 

While most are familiar with some effects of the virus, few are completely informed of its origins. The World Economic Forum reports the outbreak began in Wuhan, China between late December 2019 and early January 2020. Scientists determined the virus lives in the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Multiple theories hint at possible causes, including one that claimed an origin in bats, and later pangolin as well as it being an engineered “recombination” of two different viruses. Despite these hypotheses, COVID-19’s exact origin is still unclear; however, scientists are fairly certain the virus is linked to a group of Betacoronaviruses found in bats. 

While COVID-19 may sound intimidating, for most people its symptoms are actually similar to those of a severe cold or flu. The University of Alabama-Birmingham explains how COVID-19, the flu, common colds and allergies all include some type of cough, but COVID-19 is usually distinguishable by a dry cough. Those who contract COVID-19 also report fever, similar to flu patients. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, COVID-19 patients are also likely to experience shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems and/or diarrhea as well,  while cold and flu patients generally do not. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises those experiencing these symptoms to contact a doctor and follow his or her guidance to prevent the spread of the disease. These may include wearing a mask if human contact is made and self-quarantining as much as possible, since the virus spreads very easily. Although younger people generally have a better survival rate, it is potentially life-threatening to the elderly and those with severe underlying medical conditions, including those with heart problems, asthma, HIV and pregnant women. 

While different regions of the world are experiencing the effects of COVID-19 at different levels, most countries with many reported cases have taken action. Italy, Spain and France are under lockdown as death counts rise in all three countries. This means that residents must remain inside their homes unless they need essential supplies like food or medicine, and all nonessential businesses are temporarily closed. Axios states that as of the beginning of April, there were 143,626 cases reported in Italy, 153,222 in Spain, 117,749 in France and 118,235 in Germany. Meanwhile, China has reported 81,907 cases. While these are extremely high numbers, the U.S. has reported 468,895 cases, which is more than any other country. The virus’s epicenter is currently New York State which reports over half of the cases in the U.S. 

In the U.S., different states have taken different approaches to alleviating the spread. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), 42 states, including Ohio, have issued “shelter-in-place” orders, meaning citizens must follow similar behaviors to Italy, Spain and France. Everyone is encouraged to practice “social distancing,” which includes remaining at least six feet apart when in public and cancelling gatherings of 10 or more people. The idea is that these actions will “flatten the curve,” meaning that less people will contract it over time and the peak will happen later than it would with no social distancing. Without these actions, more people will contract COVID-19 in the coming weeks, creating a high peak of those testing positive. 

While COVID-19 is quite contagious, there is much we can do to prevent its spread. Most people have been told to work from home when possible, stay home as much as possible and minimize visits to public places, such as grocery stores. Many grocery stores, like Kroger, are working to keep shelves as fully stocked as possible and rationing high-demand items like paper towels and toilet paper to one per person. Stores like Publix are also cutting their hours to restock every night and setting aside earlier hours for people aged 65 and older.  Lastly, the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, cleaning surfaces daily and avoiding face-touching as much as possible. 

While everyone has had to make some major life adjustments due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these actions have been deemed necessary to slow the spread. When making the decision to go out or remain home, everyone is urged to consider their grandparents, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised. Even though COVID-19 may seem like a bad case of the flu to some, it is life-threatening to others. As a society, everyone must come together to fight COVID-19 for the health and well-being of friends, families and communities around the world. 

*COVID-19 is an evolving matter. The following article includes data that was published on Apr. 10 2020, so not all information may reflect the current situation.