Covid-19 – What is it? What should we do right now?

What exactly is Covid-19? From the World Health Organization (WHO), “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-CoV).

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. “

Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, China and spread rapidly from there. Here’s a comprehensive list of countries affected.

Countries, areas or territories with cases

China :81174 cases

Italy :35713 cases

Iran (Islamic Republic of) :17361 cases

Spain :13716 cases

Republic of Korea :8413 cases

Germany :8198 cases

France :7652 cases

United States of America :7087 cases

Switzerland :3003 cases

The United Kingdom :2626 cases

Netherlands :2051 cases

Austria :1646 cases

Belgium :1486 cases

Norway :1423 cases

Sweden :1279 cases

Denmark :1044 cases

Japan :873 cases

International conveyance (Diamond Princess) :712 cases

Malaysia :673 cases

Portugal :642 cases

Canada :569 cases

Australia :510 cases

Czechia :464 cases

Qatar :442 cases

Greece :387 cases

Finland :359 cases

Singapore :313 cases

Israel :304 cases

Ireland :292 cases

Brazil :291 cases

Slovenia :275 cases

Estonia :258 cases

Iceland :250 cases

Poland :246 cases

Romania :246 cases

Bahrain :242 cases

Pakistan :241 cases

Saudi Arabia :238 cases

Indonesia :227 cases

Thailand :212 cases

Luxembourg :203 cases

Chile :201 cases

Egypt :196 cases

Philippines :187 cases

Ecuador :155 cases

Iraq :154 cases

India :151 cases

Russian Federation :147 cases

Kuwait :142 cases

Lebanon :133 cases

Peru :117 cases

United Arab Emirates :113 cases

San Marino :109 cases

Slovakia :105 cases

Turkey :98 cases

Serbia :96 cases

Mexico :93 cases

Bulgaria :92 cases

Panama :86 cases

South Africa :85 cases

Armenia :84 cases

Croatia :81 cases

Argentina :79 cases

Algeria :72 cases

Latvia :71 cases

Viet Nam :66 cases

Colombia :65 cases

Albania :59 cases

Cyprus :58 cases

Faroe Islands :58 cases

Hungary :58 cases

Brunei Darussalam :56 cases

Costa Rica :50 cases

Morocco :49 cases

Jordan :48 cases

Malta :48 cases

Belarus :46 cases

occupied Palestinian territory :44 cases

Sri Lanka :42 cases

Andorra :39 cases

Georgia :38 cases

Kazakhstan :36 cases

North Macedonia :36 cases

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) :36 cases

Cambodia :35 cases

Azerbaijan :34 cases

Oman :33 cases

Senegal :31 cases

Republic of Moldova :30 cases

Tunisia :29 cases

Uruguay :29 cases

Guadeloupe :27 cases

Bosnia and Herzegovina :26 cases

Lithuania :26 cases

Liechtenstein :25 cases

Afghanistan :22 cases

Dominican Republic :21 cases

Burkina Faso :20 cases

New Zealand :20 cases

Martinique :19 cases

Ukraine :16 cases

Uzbekistan :16 cases

Maldives :13 cases

Bolivia (Plurinational State of) :12 cases

Jamaica :12 cases

Réunion :12 cases

French Guiana :11 cases

Paraguay :11 cases

Bangladesh :10 cases

Cameroon :10 cases

Honduras :9 cases

Monaco :9 cases

Gibraltar :8 cases

Nigeria :8 cases

Rwanda :8 cases

Cuba :7 cases

Democratic Republic of the Congo :7 cases

Ghana :7 cases

Trinidad and Tobago :7 cases

Ethiopia :6 cases

Seychelles :6 cases

Guatemala :6 cases

Côte d’Ivoire :6 cases

Jersey :5 cases

Mongolia :5 cases

Guam :5 cases

Guyana :4 cases

Kenya :4 cases

Aruba :4 cases

Curacao :3 cases

Equatorial Guinea :3 cases

French Polynesia :3 cases

Gabon :3 cases

Mayotte :3 cases

Puerto Rico :3 cases

Saint Barthelemy :3 cases

United Republic of Tanzania :3 cases

Kyrgyzstan :3 cases

Namibia :2 cases

Saint Martin :2 cases

Saint Lucia :2 cases

United States Virgin Islands :2 cases

Liberia :2 cases

Zambia :2 cases

Montenegro :2 cases

Barbados :2 cases

Antigua and Barbuda :1 cases

Bhutan :1 cases

Cayman Islands :1 cases

Central African Republic :1 cases

Congo :1 cases

Eswatini :1 cases

Guernsey :1 cases

Guinea :1 cases

Holy See :1 cases

Mauritania :1 cases

Nepal :1 cases

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines :1 cases

Sudan :1 cases

Togo :1 cases

Suriname :1 cases

Somalia :1 cases

Benin :1 cases

Bahamas :1 cases

Gambia :1 cases

On my Homefront

I just talked with my sister while she was at Costco shopping for dog and cat food, and she said those items were also in short supply. Of course toilet paper was nowhere in sight. I’m down to two rolls, so I think I might have to explore other options.

What makes Covid-19 so dangerous?

What makes Covid-19 so dangerous is that it’s highly contagious, plus there is no vaccine against it. We have all lived with different strains of the flu, yet it continues to kill thousands every year. Fortunately, we have the option of getting a flu shot to combat that, so while thousands die, we don’t see stores shutting down, sports venues being cancelled, and restaurants being forced by the government to shut their doors. We don’t see borders being closed and warnings to avoid large crowds. We’ve lived with the flu for years without global panic.

There is no vaccine for Covid-19

With Covid-19, we don’t have the option of a vaccine, so the entire world is in a panic, and rightfully so. I myself am in a high-risk category, so I need to be extra careful in my interactions with other people. Fortunately, dogs and cats can’t contract Covid-19 so I’m safe on that front.

Social distancing

The simplest way to combat the spread of this virus is social distancing, and that simply means to avoid close contact with others, preferably at distances of 3 feet or greater.

Why social distancing? Covid-19 can be transmitted through the air we breathe, so the farther we distance ourselves from potential carriers of this virus, the better our chances of falling ill. There is an incubation period where those who have contracted the virus feel fine, yet can transmit that to others, including their wives and husbands, children, older family members and fellow workers or associates.

Other precautions

We’ve also been cautioned not to touch our faces, as that increases the odds of infection. Digging deeper, that also means everything we touch; dollar bills, railings, tabletops and so on deserves our attention.

In restaurants, we first saw salt and pepper shakers disappear, being replaced by packets. We then saw extreme efforts to disinfect everything their patrons might touch – every 15 to 30 minutes. Even that wasn’t enough in most communities as local governments initiated bans on dining in, forcing restaurants to survive on deliveries.

Large crowds

At first, the word was to avoid large crowds of over 500, and then that was reduced to 50 or more. Now, we’re being advised to hunker down at home and work remotely for up to 8 weeks. For thousands of displaced workers, that isn’t possible which is going to result in untold bankruptcies and businesses shutting their doors.

Travel bans

In the USA, travel from China was initially banned, but that quickly expanded to Europe and now the UK. Even Canada closed their border. It seems the large majority of those infected in the USA are those who have travelled abroad, or on cruise ships. Airlines are not immune either.

We’re in the midst of a full on pandemic

While the risk of inhaling this virus is diminished by social distancing, even those who remain completely isolated are at some risk via shared objects.

How it spreads

  • It is believed to spread primarily from person-to-person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 3 to 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
  • Those droplets can find their way into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, possibly by being inhaled into the lungs.
  • Those droplets can also land on surfaces, then be touched and carried to the face.

How to protect yourself

Of course you want to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water at minimum for twenty seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least sixty percent alcohol. Clean all of the surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Schools are closing their doors

Even as major school districts around the USA are shutting their doors, at least until April, a union in Hawaii initially demanded that the University of Hawaii remain open pending labor negotiations. The university’s 10 campuses will begin online courses on March 23, the first day after spring break, as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus. The administration hopes to resume in-person classes on April 13.

In St. Louis, Washington University has already switched to online studies. The spring 2020 semester came to a sudden halt, and places that typically saw foot traffic, such as Brookings Quadrangle, lay silent due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. The most heartbreaking decision was the March 16 announcement of the cancellation of the 159th Commencement ceremony, which was scheduled for May 15th.

What can you do in your workplace?

Certainly, social distancing means reducing interactions between people and the distance to which they are forced to interact. Work remotely when possible and hold virtual meetings rather than face-to-face.

For senior living facilities and adult assisted living facilities, restricting access will minimize the spread of this virus.

Social functions should be postponed, and lunch breaks should be staggered so that fewer people are gathered at one time.

Be Safe ………

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Steve

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