Trying to understand coronavirus and COVID-19

When you think of coronavirus it’s hard to pinpoint where to start. 

Do you first research deeper into what coronavirus is? Do you decide to go get tested to find out how whether you’re a positive carrier? Do you stock up on household essentials, food, first aid kits, and face masks? In what order do you act first?

I have to admit that my main concern with coronavirus isn’t particularly the virus itself but the dissemination of information.

I wanted to do my own reading on what coronavirus is, what it means to have it, and how it can be prevented. I am in no way an epidemiologist and I am not claiming to be one. However, I am a Googlelogist and that means I have access to the same information as you.

It’s quite difficult to digest what coronavirus is because every type of news outlet has its own segment. What you read on The Post may differ from what you heard on NPR but watched on CNN and scrolled across on Facebook. The information on corona (or “that rona”) can be convoluted to the average person. It can explain why people think it is smart to hoard toilet tissue and hand sanitizer

This coronavirus that has the world in shambles is a member of the larger family of coronaviruses that include MERS and SARS. These viruses are zoonotic, which means it can be transmitted from animals to humans. What makes this coronavirus different is its novelty. Hence the name COVID-19 (coronavirus disease—2019), the “19” is to reference the year COVID was discovered.

This explains why coronavirus and COVID-19 are being used interchangeably. COVID-19 is the official name for this specific type of disease caused by coronavirus named by the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus is called SARS-CoV-2. Viruses cause diseases, think about how HIV causes AIDS.

At the end of 2019, Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist living in Wuhan, China, discovered that patients in the hospital where he worked appeared to have SARS. He brought this concern to his colleagues in a group chat warning of possible infection. 

January 3, 2020, the Wuhan government accused him of spreading rumors and had him sign an affidavit for making “false statements”. On January 10, Dr. Li started having a cough and a couple of weeks later he tested positive for the coronavirus. By February 8, Dr. Li died from the disease he tried to warn people about.

At the time Dr. Li first noticed the virus, there was a relatively low number of those infected and quarantined at the hospital. The patients from a local seafood market in Wuhan all shared the same symptoms and were first thought to have a severe type of pneumonia. 

I want to say the story of COVID-19 is quite fascinating and I don’t say with a positive connotation. What makes COVID-19 fascinating is its origin and how it was first handled by the government, which gives it a scandal element. The Wuhan government initially tried to cover up and downplay the outbreak to not be infectious and exclusive to just those exposed in the market. When in reality by the time the Chinese government finally declared it an emergency, it was the end of January and the start of a major Chinese holiday—New Year. And what do people do during the holidays? Travel.

Trust me when I tell you that reading how COVID-19 developed is worth some of your time. We’re scared of something without truly knowing what it even is and as someone who studied journalism in college—the media plays on those fears. It explains why you’re afraid to cough/sneeze in public and the first sign of an itchy throat you self diagnose yourself with disease you assume will kill you.

So can COVID-19 kill you?

COVID-19 can be deadly and a list of factors determines that fate. I am not a doctor; so, I cannot make that final judgment to say yes or no. However, I can keep sharing a bit more information with you to help ease that terror.

Let’s be clear: anyone can get COVID-19. When you take age and underlying health conditions into account, there is a group of people who are more high risk if infected. Older people over the age of 60 (really risky 80+), people who suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer patients, and pregnant women are just to name a few. This explains why countries like Italy, Spain, and China have gone into complete shutdown. Since COVID-19 is so new, there are no answers. This also explains why health officials and governments across the world are mandating quarantines and closing down everything indefinitely.

The government is pushing for isolation and social distancing because it’s believed that if we limit our social interaction and are more homebound it’ll flatten the epidemic curve. Although coronavirus is clearly deadly and highly contagious, that hasn’t stopped people from frolicking on beached. Read the story of packed Florida beach here. Read the story of college students not giving a fuck about that ‘rona while on spring break

coronavirus social distancing epidemic curve

COVID-19 isn’t just fucking up your plans, it’s fucking up everyone’s plans…across the world. The human race is at war with a virus that no one knows how to stop. It’s going to be an emotional ride to see how the economy bounces back. Right now, I’m not the only one struggling with unemployment.

I am also aware the President of the U.S. is referring to coronavirus as the “Chinese virus”. Although the COVID-19 origins are from China, it’s not a literal Chinese virus. To call a virus a “Chinese virus” only adds more problems to xenophobia. When what needs to be addressed is how it’s so accessible to travel from continent to continent and country to country (by plane). This explains why people who traveled abroad were first thought to be more susceptible to infection.

So, if you find yourself with the sniffles and a sore throat try not to panic so hard. If you have a physician call her/him up and discuss your symptoms and let your doctor schedule testing. If you don’t have a physician, find out what resources are available to you. In case you aren’t aware of this, our hospitals aren’t equipped to handle the influx of patients that COVID-19 is bringing through the doors. There aren’t enough beds, doctors, staff, and equipment.

It all sounds scary because it is and it’s okay to be scared.

Stay safe, sanitized, wash your hands, cover your sneeze/cough, and leave some damn toilet tissue for the rest of us. 


P.S. I learned a lot about coronavirus and COVID-19 while drafting this post (I’m already expecting a documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman). I highly recommend you do some reading to become enlightened on a matter that has a global effect. This will be talked about for decades to come. It’s our history now. 

Supplemental Coronavirus Reading Material

This article explains how coronavirus got its name and offers a simple understanding of the virus & disease.

This website is a live tracker of the coronavirus breaking it down by continent and country tracking cases, deaths, recovery rate, and severity.