Coronavirus Covid-19 has been dominating headlines and social media posts for several weeks now, and as the cases ramp up in the US it will only get worse. People have 24/7 access to news media and instant updates from Facebook.
With the glut of information most people are starting to feel like an expert on coronavirus and epidemiology, but even some experts are putting out false or misleading information. I am admittedly not an expert on the coronavirus or epidemiology, but when Doctors and healthcare professionals are posting false claims on Facebook and giving interviews with completely false information, I believe anyone with a handle on the facts should address it.
I began following the coronavirus pandemic on about January 10th. As the owner of a commercial business that sources products from China it was relevant to our orders that were in progress and future inventory concerns. I watched as the coronavirus case number grew from a couple hundred to approximately 20,000 as the official Chinese New Year came to a close.
There were some disruptions with our contacts (for example FedEx stopped running temporarily) but the majority of closures and disruption was isolated to the Hubei province. It seemed that our governments were doing a decent job of stopping the spread of the virus to the US public, but I knew it was serious once the CDC issued a briefing that said disruption to daily life might be severe.
The Coronavirus has been spreading in the US for Months
This is completely false without a shred of credibility.
What The Spread Looked Like In China
Coronavirus likely began in late November in Wuhan China which is located in the Hubei province. Covid 19 spread around a local wet market at first, but there were only 54 confirmed cases worldwide on January 3rd 2020. It began to spread quickly and confirmed cases started piling up through the month of January with only a handful of international cases.
Coastal provinces in China are relatively unscathed compared to Hubei which at the time of this writing has roughly half the world’s Coronavirus deaths. The world was able to stave off the spread for a time, but once several European countries became infected it became clear that the US would be unable to prevent the spread to the general public.
Entering The United States
Among the first US citizens infected were residents of the Life Care Center nursing home in Washington state. Roughly 30% of those infected died there, which is a clear indication of a dangerous and unseen virus.
The general public has no immunity to Coronavirus, so even though it is mild when contracted by healthy young adults it still uses the public as a vector to reach communities of elderly people with existing health conditions. If Coronavirus had been spreading through the US unchecked since November we would have a scene that closely resembles Italy or Hubei by now, with entire hospitals overrun and healthcare staff having to turn away the worst patients because they tax the resources to a higher extent.
Flattening the Curve
Since the spread of Coronavirus closely matches the official narrative, the US has had time to prepare and begin limiting contact with crowds which will slow the spread immensely. Our outbreak is more likely to resemble the coastal Chinese provinces than Italy because of these preparations.
It took a little over a month for 1 case to ramp up to 50 confirmed. Many more people were carrying and transmitting the virus and as healthcare officials caught up with testing and information distribution there were 2,000-4,000 new cases being reported daily during the second half of January in China.
The demand was so severe in Hubei the government built a new hospital in 10 days. None of this happened in the US; frankly it’s ludicrous to insist that Coronavirus had been spreading under the guise of the Flu in the US for 2 months, died down a little and is now spreading just as the CDC (who says there was less than 100 cases in the US until February) has predicted it would.
The healthcare apparatus in the US has its problems but we are especially equipped for identifying and reporting new diseases. With the level of transparency and existing checks and balances Covid 19 would have quickly been identified and reported up the chain of command in the US.
Holding Your Breath for 10 Seconds is a Way to Diagnose Coronavirus Without a Test
This is one of the more ridiculous claims floating around the Internet. It is included in a long post that claims to be taken from advice given by experts in Taiwan. The Taiwan Fact Check Center has already debunked this claim and many experts have come out calling it ridiculous with zero merit.
Drinking Water Will Wash The Virus Into Your Stomach
The Coronavirus has an elegant design like most viruses it targets and attacks proteins and other cells as a host. You can’t wash away coronavirus no more than you can wash away throat cancer. Staying hydrated does have a positive effect on your immune system, but there is no indication that drinking water does anything other than that in relation to Covid 19.
Coronavirus is No Big Deal, the Flu is Deadlier
Coronavirus has spread across the entire planet in a little over 3 months killing on average 3% of patients with confirmed cases. The Flu has a mortality rate of approximately 0.1%, or 30 times less than Covid 19.
It’s even more startling that in clusters where the infected are elderly the virus has a mortality rate between 15% and 30%.
It’s also more easily transmitted than the Flu. Scientists measure the ease of transmission with the basic reproduction number which indicates how many people a single infected individual will infect on average. The Flu’s value is R1.9, and initial estimates for Coronavirus Covid 19 put its mean value at R3.28.
The Coronavirus has quickly shown that it’s far worse than the flu as a public health crisis; in Italy Coronavirus patients quickly filled hospital beds and caused a paradigm change in the way Italian Doctors prescribe and handle care. Older patients that would use a lot of time and resources and may still die would usually be high priority, but in this new paradigm they are left to die so healthcare workers can distribute care to those most likely to benefit.
Children Cannot Catch Coronavirus or Do not Get Symptoms
While the overall data does seem to show children are less likely to die from Coronavirus, initial studies indicated that children are just as likely to contract the disease. Children have shown milder symptoms.
I would like to point out that a correlation isn’t always the product of a cause; initial cases were most likely contracted by adults traveling in the public and during the second round their children became infected but did not exhibit severe symptoms and were likely overlooked. The CDC recommends the same measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus in children that they do in adults.
Pets Cannot Catch or Transmit Coronavirus
Although the World Health Organization believes that animals are not a primary driver of transmission, a dog in Hong Kong tested positive twice.
Coronaviruses have a history of spreading between different species, which includes the genesis of Covid 19. Cats and Ferrets were shown to be asymptomatic hosts of SARS capable of infecting other cats in the same cage.
You should assume that your pets are just as susceptible to contracting coronavirus as your children and implement measures to protect them, but there is nothing out there to indicate that you should get rid of your pets. Experts recommend following basic hygiene guidelines and wash your hands before and after touching a pet.
How Long Will Protective Measures Last?
Some good news seems to be on the Horizon. China has declared victory over the Coronavirus and for the most part travel restrictions there are being lifted.
During the first 20 days of February I watched as the number of confirmed cases rose by 2,000-4,000 each day. Toward the end of February that number started to slow, and now new cases are around 100-200 each day. The number of cases in the US now roughly correlates to the number that China had at the end of January when the virus really started to spread. This could indicate that within 6-8 weeks we will have seen the worst of it and Coronavirus will be on the way out.
Of course a major goal in slowing the spread is to not overwhelm healthcare resources. We could see a protracted situation nationally that spreads out to 3-4 months. It’s also likely that summer weather will have a positive effect on transmission rates.
Either way I expect the US to return to business as usual somewhere between the end of April and the beginning of June.