Worried About Coronavirus?
I have had many people ask me to make some sense of the panic and fear we are seeing around this new virus called COVID-19. I thought I would write about it, by answering the most common questions I am seeing.
On Wednesday March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization declared a pandemic as the number of infected countries grows. The W.H.O. had not declared a pandemic since 2009, when it gave that designation to a new strain of H1N1 influenza.
Should I Be More Worried About COVID-19 than the seasonal flu?
Some of the reasons our reactions and responses to COVID-19 are different from the seasonal flu are
- we don’t have any vaccine
- testing is limited
- we are learning daily about the virus and how it is spread
- we need to protect the vulnerable communities
- we don’t know how severe or fatal this new virus is
- health officials are not sure yet how contagious coronavirus is.
SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are all infections caused by members of a group of viruses called coronaviruses. COVID-19 is transmitted between humans much more efficiently than either SARS or MERS, which helps explain why it has traveled so much faster than its two modern predecessors.
Why Are the Numbers of Cases Rising?
We are going to see a tremendous increase in the number of US cases of COVID-19 in the next weeks. This is not because of some new pattern in the spread of the disease, but rather due to a major change in the requirements to be tested. Early March , if you had flu like illness but had not recently traveled to China, Italy, South Korea, or Iran, you could not be tested. COVID-19 is moving so fast that public health officials are struggling to keep testing guidelines up to date.
We will see hundreds or thousands of new cases as a result of testing increases as large laboratories like Quest and LabCorp join public health testing platforms, Ultimately, I think it will become routine to test anyone who has cough and fever for COVID-19 just like we do routinely with the flu as we roll out massive surveillance in the next few weeks.
Will a face mask protect me from coronavirus?
The general public does not need to wear masks. Those who are sick should wear masks to prevent germs from spreading to others.
Read my next blog on Top Ten Things YOU Can Do to Protect Yourself from Corona Virus
CDC Self Quarantine Guidance and High Risk Travel locations: HERE
Primary landing page for CDC Coronavirus information: HERE