March 10, 2020
This article was written before HCPSS school closures that began March 16th, 2020. For the latest updates on the coronavirus’s effect on the school system, including virtual learning and grab-n-go meal distribution, visit https://news.hcpss.org/.
COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus for the type of virus it is a part of, was first reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. As of Friday, March 10th, 2019, there are 109,557 reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, and 3,809 deaths. There are 423 cases in the United States (19 fatalities and 322 under investigation of infection), and Maryland has only 6 known infections. As of March 11, COVID-19 is officially a pandemic. The symptoms for the disease are fever, tiredness, and dry cough, aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. The symptoms are mild and very similar to the flu; this is a problem since this time of the year is the flu season.
Just like all hysteria, there is a lot of misinformation about the disease. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) have debunked lies such as that cold weather can kill the virus, or that a warm bath prevents the disease. The disease is a respiratory virus; this means that coughs, sneezes, and saliva droplets transmit the disease. Pets do not transmit the disease, but you should wash your hands after interacting with your pets to be safe. Another common idea is that products that state “made in China” can carry the disease. That is a myth because the virus can only stay on a surface from a few hours to a couple of days. Some people believe that only senior citizens can get infected by COVID-19. This is not true, but there is some truth to the statement. Still, those with weakened immune systems (such as newborns and senior citizens), heart disease, asthma, and others with pre-existing medical conditions seem to be severely ill or at risk of death.
As of March 10th, all HCPSS out of state (also DC) field trips are cancelled, and all in-state trips will be reviewed to see if they shall also get cancelled.
“The decision to cancel out-of-state field trips was made out of an abundance of caution to minimize risk to HCPSS students, staff and families,” said Dr. Martirano. “This decision alone cannot completely eliminate the risk of exposure to this virus, so I remind all Howard County citizens to increase personal precautions and practice the healthy habits recommended by the Howard County Health Department.” He followed up with him commenting that he will be in contact with Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer.
According to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, from the CDC’s telebriefing update on March 3rd, the attack rate of the disease is “.45% among all close contacts and 10.5% among household members.”
On March 5th, WHO had a media briefing with the Director-General. He stated that the disease is “not deadly to most people,” and that the deadliness of the disease is not just on the virus, but also “how we respond to it.” WHO has also posted on its website about scammers taking advantage of the outbreak. Beware of false emails; the only emails WHO sends out are, “‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ If there is anything other than ‘who.int’ after the ‘@’ symbol, this sender is not from WHO.”
The vaccine won’t be created for possibly several years, and a cure could be impossible. The best thing to do would be to follow a simple rule: you can never be too safe. Watch the news to stay updated, read articles from the CDC, and WHO, and most importantly, stay healthy.
In the WHO media briefing, the director ends on these words, which everyone should keep in mind. “This is not just a threat for individual people, or individual countries. We’re all in this together, and we can only save lives together.” Whether someone is liberal or conservative, friend or foe, and even citizens from different countries, we are all apart of the human race.