If there’s one thing we know for sure about the coronavirus, it’s that we don’t know everything. As the number of confirmed cases in the United States continues to climb (past 11,000 as of March 19), Americans are plagued with questions.
How dangerous is COVID-19? Who’s most at risk? How long will this nightmare last?
The answers aren’t immediately clear, but experts are learning more each day.
How Fast is Coronavirus Spreading?
On January 14, 2020, the United States had zero reported cases of the coronavirus. By March 10, that number had surged to 1,004 confirmed cases. Less than two weeks later, on March 19, at least 11,015 people across the country tested positive for COVID-19. It’s that type of exponential growth that has led government leaders to impose strict shelter-in-place and social distancing directives.
President Donald Trump compared the spread of coronavirus to a wartime emergency, just with an enemy lurking on our own soil. In fact, the coronavirus has hit certain cities so hard that hospitals are nearly crippled, rationing mere days’ worth of equipment and supplies to last as long as possible.
As President and CEO of Phoebe Putney Health Systems in southwest Georgia explained, “We have gone through five months, now six months’ worth of supplies in less than a week. And we are scrambling.”
If the coronavirus behavior observed in Italy and China is any indication, the cases of coronavirus will continue to increase before they decrease. Only once the U.S has passed its peak of infections can life begin to resume a sense of normalcy.
What Can We Learn From China?
China was the first country to experience the devastating effects of COVID-19. Now two and a half months after the virus first emerged, China is starting to lift lockdowns and reopen schools. March 19, 2020 marked a milestone as the first time since December that China had no new domestic cases of coronavirus to report.
Assuming the United States can successfully “flatten the curve” of the virus, we may also be able to emerge in a few months’ time ready to return to our normal routines. But with so much unknown about the coronavirus, from its long-term characteristics to its response to warmer weather, this is largely a waiting game.
Is the End in Sight?
Every expert has his or her own opinion. Some suggest that the coronavirus will remain a threat for the next 18 months, until the first vaccine becomes available. Others suggest that we’ll pull hit our peak soon and gain a solid footing by April.
We really won’t know for sure until time passes. Until then, stock up on the necessities, do your best to maintain social distancing, and contact a medical professional if you believe you’re showing coronavirus symptoms.
- https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/03/19/818155927/china-reports-no-new-domestic-cases-but-battles-coronavirus-imported-from-abroad