The COVID-19 Pandemic by Ashley Liu

According to the World Health Organization, “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)”. In other words, coronaviruses cause pneumonia, and, like other novel viruses in the past, there is currently no effective vaccine against them. The strength of one’s immune system is thus a determining factor in fighting against the virus.

  • How severe is COVID-19, the coronavirus that is currently spreading?

Recently, scientists have found that COVID-19 is more infectious than the SARS outbreak in 2003. As of April 27th, COVID-19 has caused the death of ___ people over the world. In contrast, the 2003 SARS outbreak infected around 8,000 worldwide and killed 774. Nevertheless, scientists have determined that while COVID-19 is more infectious, it is not as fatal to humans as SARS. Indeed, COVID-19 is not a condition of unprecedented danger: the influenza virus, for comparison, caused the death of 61200 people during last year’s winter season. Essentially, from a statistical standpoint, COVID-19 is comparable to a severe flu that is highly infectious. Currently, the U.S. is experiencing a massive breakout of the virus. 

  • What caused COVID-19 to spread to humans?

The source of COVID-19 is still somewhat ambiguous: a study of the virus demonstrates that it originated in bats; however, the World Health Organization states that “whether the virus jumped directly from bats or whether there was an intermediary animal host is not, yet, known”. In Wuhan, China, a seafood and live animal market secretly engaged in the illegal sale of wild animals like bats and pangolins: some believe that wild animals have high nutritious value and will pay high prices for them. As the first cases of COVID-19 were found in individuals linked to this Wuhan market, it is likely the primary source of infection.

  • How has the Chinese government reacted to the COVID-19 outbreak?

The local government of Wuhan did not pay attention to the threat of the new virus in the very beginning. Doctor Li Wen Liang first warned the public about the severity of the illness after he got infected by one of his patients at the beginning of this year. However, the police censored him for spreading “rumors”. (Liang would later die of COVID-19 on February 7th, 2020). When the conditions got more severe, the officials of Wuhan finally took action; they gave the inhabitants of Wuhan three days’ notice before closing up the city on January 23rd, 2020. This resulted in an estimated five million people fleeing from Wuhan to other cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, some bringing the disease with them. Surrounding Chinese have placed travel restrictions or have gone on lockdown. Temperature monitors are set up in airports, but as the incubation period for COVID-19 can be up to 28 days, people carrying the virus are sometimes not detected. 

  • What are conditions like in China currently?

During the outbreak peak, the hospitals in many cities were overwhelmed and many doctors, nurses, and volunteers traveled to affected areas to help. Additionally, various buildings were converted into quarantine centers: one hotel used as a quarantine center in Quanzhou collapsed on March 7th, 2020, trapping seventy and killing ten. In Wuhan, citizens and city officials are preparing to return to normalcy after a seventy-six-day lockdown lifted on April 8th, 2020. The slowing of China’s economy, the second-largest in the world, has affected international markets. The country’s national exam for senior-year-students preparing for college is postponed until July 7th, a month later than initially scheduled. As time passes, the conditions in China are improving. Stores and shopping centers are starting to reopen and some people are going to parks or on hikes. 

  • The spread of COVID-19 beyond China.

COVID-19 is spreading worldwide and is particularly prevalent in Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan. On March 9th, 2020, the Italian government imposed a national quarantine, limiting all nonessential population movement. In the U.S., the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advises against all nonessential international travel. As of April 27th, there are a total of ____ cases in the U.S.; fifty states and the nation’s capital have cases. At least __ have died. In the US, most shops are closed and people are advised to stay home. 

How has COVID-19 affected our Catalina community? 

As of April 27th, our in-person classes have been canceled until May 4th, and students have started online classes with teachers. Studying at home is more relaxing, but it also creates an environment where it is a little harder to focus, so students are learning to improve their time management. Under the quarantine, although some events are postponed, the junior class managed to have a Zoom Prom. Many of the international students went home. In China, returning students had to experience fourteen days of quarantine in designated hotels upon landing before they could return to their homes. It is a difficult time for our Catalina community, but we’ve managed to make the best of it. 

Tips for staying safe and healthy:

On grocery trips, don’t forget to wear a face mask and gloves and maintain a six-foot distance from others. Another tip is to grab food with a plastic bag instead of touching it with your hands, as many people may have already touched the product. Using a plastic bag is an effective way to minimize contaminating the products. Online grocery options include Amazon Fresh and Instacart. Don’t forget to exercise every day because nothing fights the virus better than a healthy immune system. If outdoor exercises don’t seem plausible, workouts like jumping ropes or following a YouTube workout video are great choices. Pamela Reif and Coffee Lam post great workout videos.

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