What on earth is happening right now?
Coronavirus shuts down school, the economy, the world in April and May 2020
We all remember the first day we heard about coronavirus or COVID-19. It started in late December of 2019, although most of us didn’t start paying attention until a few months later, with a few cases of an unknown virus from Wuhan, China. From there, numbers of confirmed cases slowly began to climb.
“At the beginning I was kind of unaware of the coronavirus,” sophomore Dori Hobbie said. “I knew it was really bad in Asia, but it wasn’t really anywhere else yet. We were all ready to go for our CFE trip to Spain, and then it got canceled. It was really sad and disappointing.”
After only a couple of months, there were over 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide.
“When looking at the big picture,” Hobbie said, “as sad as it was to not be able to go, it was definitely the right move considering how much danger we could’ve been in.”
So how exactly did the virus spread this fast? One important factor was the global spread through air travel and local spread through public gatherings and public transportation.
In 2018, Americans used public transportation over 30 million times per day. Public transportation is used even more widely used in large cities like Paris or Wuhan. When this many people are traveling close together every day, it’s almost too easy for respiratory viruses, like coronavirus, to spread. This is part of why it’s so crucial that people try to social distance and take extra precautions, like wearing masks and gloves, when going out in public settings.
Cruise ships were also a huge part of how coronavirus spread. This is partially because many cruise ships continued sailing after the virus was detected.
According to the Washington Post, the virus affected travelers on 55 ships and killed at least 65 people, though the full scope is unknown. As the virus began to spread more rapidly around the world, cruise officials failed to recognize the flu-like symptoms and outbreaks amongst the passengers as possible signs of coronavirus.
Another way that coronavirus is easily spread is that some people don’t even know they have it. In fact, NBC News says that 25 percent of people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t show any signs or symptoms of the virus.
Some common signs are fever, cough, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell, repeated shaking with chills and a sore throat. These symptoms can make it difficult to detect whether or not you have COVID-19 since these symptoms are so common in other diseases like the common cold or influenza.
There are statistics for confirmed cases, but most people think the actual number of infected people is much, much higher.
That’s because there has been a shortage of test kits. Fox News said, “The Department of Health and Human Services of the Inspector General interviewed 323 hospitals across 46 states in March and is- sued a report that found most U.S. hospitals are experiencing testing shortages and extended wait times for test results.”
The lack of test kits is believed to be the result of the growing demand for COVID-19 kits. It also has to do with the fact that many factories have been closed down worldwide to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus is also very dangerous because there’s no cure. There’s no specific treatment for the coronavirus disease yet. Some people with more severe cases need support and hospitalization to help them breathe.
Others with minor cases have to stay at home except to get medical care. They have to stay in a specific room and away from other people in the home. If possible, it’s even recommended that they use a separate bathroom.
While the spread of coronavirus took many of us by surprise, there were some experts who did predict in recent years that a pandemic could have catastrophic effects on our country if we’re not well pre- pared. During the rise of COVID-19 these voices were mostly ignored and unheard which left us on the more unprepared side of things.
The economy has taken quite the hit in recent months (see page 2). Stocks have fallen by up to 35% from January to April. According to the BBC, investors fear that the spread of coronavirus will destroy economic growth and that the government action may not be enough to stop the decline.
During this time, restaurants, movie theaters, clothing stores and other non-essential businesses have had to temporarily close leaving more than 30 million Americans having to file for unemployment.
It’s been a difficult transition for both students and teachers as schools shift from normal life on campus to distance learning. More than 1.5 billion students around the world, which is about 90 percent of the world’s students, have been forced to stay away from their schools during the pandemic, ac- cording to UNESCO.
Many schools (like Minnehaha) have devices like computers or iPads that are perfect for distance learn- ing (see page 12). Other schools aren’t as fortunate. Distance learning has had a large impact on sub- Saharan Africa. The education systems in these developing regions are in crisis.
While distance learning is play- ing a crucial role in providing access to education for millions of people in the developing world, this can be difficult where there are technological infrastructure barriers, commonly called the digital divide.
However, mobile broadband technology is quickly penetrating remote rural regions and providing internet access to people who live there.
The presidential election of 2020 has also been greatly impacted by coronavirus (see page 4). More than 15 states have postponed primaries during the pandemic. Some states have postponed their elections while others have gone ahead with their elections as scheduled.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, some lawmakers are also seeking ways to expand early voting and voting by mail-in ballots in time for the November 3rd general election. On April 2nd, the Democratic National Committee announced that the party’s convention would be postponed for a month from mid-July to mid-August.
What’s going to happen now that the spring sports season is cancelled (see page 16) and the fall sports season might look a little different than usual?
With all of this going on in the world, there has been some controversy over things related to COVID-19. One common mistake is that the coronavirus disease is the same as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). This is false. Although the viruses that caused them are related to each other genetically, the diseases they cause are quite different.
Another theory is that coronavirus can be spread through pack- ages in the mail. According to the CDC, coronavirus is mostly spread through respiratory droplets, like saliva. Currently there is no evidence supporting transmissions of COVID-19 through imported goods.
Overall, coronavirus took the world by storm and there’s still a lot that we’re learning about the disease. We’re all a little new to worldwide pandemics, so for now let’s just try to flatten the curve and make sure we sanitize.