The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) illustration that depicts the “ultrastructural morphology” that is common among the group of coronaviruses.
COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), the current 2019-2020 pandemic virus, has swept across the globe in the past few months. Reportedly first identified in Wuhan, China, the virus is believed to have first transferred via animal-to-human contact, with human-to-human transmission following in every subsequent occurrence. COVID-19 belongs to an inclusive genre of the coronavirus, which is prevalent in both human and animal populations. COVID-19 has posed more difficulty in research and treatment, as it is a new strain that parallels the previous coronavirus epidemic of SARS-CoV first in China and through transmission to roughly twenty-four other countries within the past twenty years. Despite similarities, however, SARS-CoV’s 8,000 cases and 800 deaths is found to be no comparison to COVID-19’s aggressive and rapid spread around the globe with 297,090 cases and 12,755 deaths world-wide as of March 21st, 2020.
In the United States, 22,177 cases and 278 deaths were announced the afternoon of March 21st. While the number of cases constitutes only 0.0068% of the United States’ population based on the 2019 United States Census, the number of cases has more than tripled, and the number of deaths has doubled within the last five days. The increase in numbers can be attributed to the increase in testing, which only emphasizes that COVID-19’s heightened contagiousness presents a threat to America, and in extension, the world. According to the head of the World Health Organization, COVID-19 is three times more contagious than the seasonal flu. It is possible for the virus to exponentially spread with human exposure due to its aggressive transmissible nature. Several countries, including the United States, Canada, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Australia, China, India, Thailand, Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco in addition to the European Union have placed various travel bans or limitations to protect their citizens from additional cases entering their borders.
Specifically in the United States, while it is within states’ constitutional rights to combat their state’s spread of COVID-19, which differs in severity from state to state, jurisdictions vastly differ in their approach to suppress the hostile virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has discovered that the spread of COVID-19 is most prevalent in human encounters within six feet of distance as well as respiratory droplets produced from coughing and sneezing. Even an asymptomatic individual can be a carrier for the virus, which can be dangerous when in contact with elderly communities or individuals with underlying health and immunocompromised conditions. It should be noted that all tests for the virus are not equal in quality or reliability — part of the delay in test kits in the US was due to the FDA’s increased standard in test reliability.
Given the pandemic’s contagious classification, the only way to stabilize the United States’s COVID-19 cases would be to apply a stern, national regulation upon all United States citizens, whether it be a nation-wide quarantine or alternative measure. Applying common sense, states taking a harsher approach to the virus will ultimately gain no benefit if other states act with leniency, providing a place for the virus to spread. Moreover, implementing city-specific quarantines will not benefit anyone long-term, as visitors and populations flow in and out of city limits. This same mentality can be applied to the global stage as well. The United States’s efforts to rid America of COVID-19 will be pointless if other countries do not combat the virus in the same manner. A similar concept to the Lernaean Hydra in Greek mythology, which grows several heads in place of a single, severed head, the virus will continue to spread and grow exponentially to a point where halting its spread becomes nearly impossible. This pandemic calls for a global plan to suppress the spreading of the virus, identify those infected, and research possible treatment to lessen the severity of impact. In America, even though restrictions were put on restaurant and store hours, there is no enforcement of social distancing or limitations of gatherings. Decreased hours limit the amount of workers and decrease the amount of active consumers. The world trades and economy are experiencing a devastating blow to previously increased and profitable rates. While the effort is heading in the right direction, President Donald Trump’s payroll tax cut has been criticized for not providing enough relief that blue-collar workers need at this moment. Questions of allotting $1,000 to American families for taxes, bill payments, and consumerism enters political discussion. However, this cash stimulus seems moot if people cannot leave their houses. The extension of income tax deadlines, mortgage and utility payment deferrals and paid sick-leave seem to be more beneficial for this pandemic situation.
Just as sampled in Miami, Florida, students of all ages have no desire to spend their spring break in isolation. While students themselves may not suffer from severe COVID-19 symptoms, it is reckless to throw caution to the wind and socialize after distancing has been strongly advised. Furthermore, students and businesses throughout the country will rely on technological outlets for online schooling and business meetings. Despite the complications produced by this limited list of dilemmas and open-ended questions, there are still numerous factors that have yet to be included. These inconsistencies and chaos provide more support for why America should enact a national approach, as all parties involved lack discipline and responsibility. But, one question remains after the short-term goal of containment. What happens if the virus returns a few months or years from now? This question will be the foundation of many social, political, and economic discussions in the months to come.
As President Trump said in his Address to the Nation on March 11th, 2020, “we must put politics aside, stop the partisanship, and unify together as one nation and one family.” Regardless of political affiliation, the safety and health of the American people should remain an utmost concern for the American people, and the only way to overcome this pandemic is to provide a concrete and unwavering plan for the United States and its territories. President Franklin Roosevelt once said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and he was correct. Although the United States and countries around the world have suffered unforgettable loss, panic, and conflict, the world will benefit from the discourse, research, and resources used to combat COVID-19.
*Note: the numbers cited in this article were last updated on March 21st, 2020 and may have changed since then.
Photo from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.