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The Coronavirus Outbreak and What it Means for US Citizens

By Zaina Fairey, Staff Reporter

Photo courtesy of WebMD

The Coronavirus, now named COVID-19, was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December. Since then, more than 42,000 people have been infected in Asia, Australia, North America and Europe, although 99  percent of the confirmed cases are in China. The disease is highly contagious and over 1,100 people have died.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that range from a common cold to pneumonia and usually spread through contact with an infected person. Including COVID-19, there are seven coronaviruses known to affect humans.

Researchers aren’t certain about how coronavirus spreads from person to person, however coronaviruses in general spread from a range of 3 to 6 feet, when an infected person coughs or sneezes on another person. The CDC is recommending that those with the coronavirus wear a face mask, as well as those around them.

Scientists also suspect that COVID-19 is spread by touching a surface that has the virus particles on it, although they don’t yet know how long the coronavirus can live outside of the body. Another theory is that it can be spread through feces.

Since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a world health emergency, many Americans have been worried about the outbreak. However, none of the confirmed patients in the US have infected anyone else, and their close contacts are being monitored.

“Our influenza problem is large… [o]ur coronavirus problem — very small and so far contained,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner.

Many Chinese and other Asian people have reported racial incidents since the coronavirus outbreak started. That’s why the WHO found a name for the coronavirus that doesn’t refer to China. Already, Chinese business owners have reported losses in business.

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Some people wonder if the name of a disease matters. According to WHO, it does. Following the swine flu epidemic which caused serious financial damage to pork farmers, despite there being no proof that the disease could be contracted by consuming pork.

Although it’s not of concern for Americans, China has been struggling to contain the Coronavirus. This is not a good sign for countries with a weaker infrastructure than China and may signal that some nations in Asia will end up with economic disasters.

Following the statement that COVID-19 seems to be a low concern for Americans, Howard University’s Office of University Communications released a statement explaining that there are no cases of the coronavirus in DC and that the university will not be testing for it.

“Please remember, flu activity is high in the U.S. and expected to continue for weeks. We do provide confirmatory testing for influenza. Any students who have not received the flu vaccine should strongly consider receiving it at no cost in the Student Health Center,” writes Howard’s Student Health Center.


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