NEW JERSEY -  It is true. We are living in desensitized times. We are over saturated with real threats in every area of our lives: We have to think about everything from foreign influences in our election processes, to melting icecaps that will result in the cities we love being the next Atlantis if not addressed. Only adding to the list, we are currently faced with a deadly virus that presents itself with symptoms similar to the common cold.

Coronavirus? “Just take a little lime with that, lime always makes corona better,” joked a man trying to make levity of a very serious situation. In these perilous times, a little levity to lighten the mood is always welcomed.

But what happens when levity, mixed with desensitization to the perils of the world turns into taking no personal action to the warnings of danger?

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Not responding is so easy to do given the tract record of major news reports that many people have brushed off as a false alarm or as being "not that bad.” False alarms like when people stocked up on canned food in preparation for the Y2K, or bought duct tape to guard against chemical warfare. "Not that bad" unless you or someone you knew received an anthrax letter or were infected with SARS. Most people go about their daily lives in a cloud of invincibility with a false notion of, "that happened to them, but it can't happen to me."

In 2002-2003, the SARS outbreak caused global pandemonium infecting more than 8,000 people around the globe. It killed 774 known people before it was contained. People all around the world wore dust masks over their nose and mouths when in common places. SARS is very similar to the Coronavirus we are seeing today and is even suspected to link back to the same likely culprit, bats.

In the United States, to date there have been 22 cases of Coronavirus diagnosed, 1 death, and 44 cases among repatriated persons from high-risk. These numbers change and can be tracked visiting this link at the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Repatriation is the process to return of someone to their country. This is the term being used when talking about the virus and those who have been quarantined for fourteen days and then released back into society.  

You might be one of those people who say, "okay so 14 people out of approximately 327.2 million in all the USA, no big deal.” If you are one of those people, you would be wrong. Depending on the city you live in, you could be in the presence of thousands of people per day. The way this virus spreads is very much like how a common cold does, except it is deadly. Besides, statistics only mean something to those who are not a part of the negative side of the statistic. In other words, when it is happening to you, the statistic is 100%. For example, you may hear 1 in 1,000,000 children have (insert parents worst fear here), but when it is your child who is that 1, the statistic may as well be 100% of all the children.

Let’s dig deeper into the facts about the virus to learn how to protect ourselves and community so that we do not become a negative statistic.

1. Coronavirus also being called  2019-nCoV or COVID-19 belongs to the same family as the viruses that caused the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak mentioned earlier on in the article.

2. According to the CDC, there are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • CDC reports that symptoms of COVID-19include a mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of, fever, cough, and shortness of breath

3. The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but now it seems to be spreading from person to person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some diseases are highly contagious (like measles), while other diseases are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading between people. 

4. With SARS the virus did not transmit before people developed symptoms, this is a good thing because when a sick person shows signs and symptoms, if they just stay home they will likely not spread the disease. Those who were in contact with that person days prior to the showing symptoms are likely not at risk. With COVID-19, so far it is thought to have a slower incubation time between when the person comes into contact with the virus vs. when the person actually begins to show symptoms. This means medical may professionals have less time to contact those who may have been exposed to be quarantined.

5. The Center of Disease Control is changing their reporting style to more accurately report the pace this virus is spreading. “Specifically, we are breaking our case count into two separate tables: 1. Repatriated by State Department 2. All other cases picked up through US Public Health Network” said Nancy Messonnier, MD the Director of National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases on a CDC Business Sector Call for COVID-19 on February 21, 2020. “(The) CDC will continue to update these tables every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We are keeping track to repatriation efforts separately because we don’t believe these numbers accurately represent the picture of what’s happening in the community for the United States at this time.”

6. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage.

7. There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 people should seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

Interesting financial facts:

1. It’s been reported that major brand name stores have been closing some of their locations in China, Starbucks, McDonalds, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, and more.

2. The stock market has been in a downward trend widely speculated to be a cause of this COVID-19.

3. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is donating $10 million to the response to the virus with 50% of the money going to Chinese groups working to contain the virus and the together 50% given to the African Center for Disease Control to go toward its efforts to prepare.

TAPinto Staff East Orange / Orange concludes that it is always better to be safe than sorry later. Please do not panic (because that helps no one), rather be vigilant, informed, and be safe. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/.

Disclosure: There is still much information unknown about the COVID-19 outbreak. This article is intended to bring credible information to locals. It was written using the most updated information as of March 1, 2020, according to the sources listed below:

Content sources: 

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD)

Division of Viral Diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Print Resources Handout and Resources 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Described on their website, "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia."