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Corona Basics

08/7/2021 (updated 6/24/22) COVID-19 is now well known as a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus –  similar to a the common cold virus.  This new virus was first reported by China to the WHO in late December 2019 although evidence suggests that the first case was in November of 2019.   Evidence suggests that it was created in a lab in China and either accidently or purposefully released.   Over the last 30 months, the illness spread to every country in the world despite active quarantine measures.  The numbers were growing daily with mounting deaths in the US, now well over one million.  It seemed that the US was on the mend with a large number that had immunity from an infection or vaccination.  Unfortunately we are seeing surges now with pockets in many states seeing this.   Hospitals are no longer on the brink of collapse due to the increased transmission of Delta and Omicron Variants.  Assuming other variants don’t gain a foothold, this wave will also pass.   With that said, many countries are seeing mounting deaths and 2021-22 deaths now have eclipsed 2020 deaths worldwide.    While in the news daily in the past, credible information is more sporadic now.  China recently shut down large cities to shut down another wave.   These measure have impacts not only on local but national and international communities.  Add inflation, war, the stock market collapse and good news seems hard to come by.   All credible evidence suggests that the Corona Virus will be around for years, like the flu but maybe not with seasonal surges.  Infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to be issues worldwide.  Underdeveloped and undeveloped nations while affected have not reported the death counts we have seen in the USA.  Weekly cases surged in January, 2022 but seems to be at a lower level now.  US, Tawain, Germany, France and Australia are current hot spots. 

Active efforts continue to be taken by the CDC and virtually every country to mitigate this global pandemic.  Currently of greatest concern is the Omicron variant and  recurrent waves of the epidemic in the USA.   USA has eclipsed other epicenters including Italy, the Republic of Korea,  the UK, Iran, and Japan.   Other countries are increasing and decreasing leading to “second, third, fourth waves” are being seen in hot spots worldwide.  This fact sheet gives basic information about the illness and what CDC is doing to contain the Corona virus in the USA.

COVID-19 can spread via human-to-human contact by droplets spewed while sneezing and coughing and even breathing and talking.  It may also be transmitted by touching infected surfaces and objects then touching your eyes, nose or mouth but this mode is unlikely.  Although characterized as a respiratory virus, it has been found in the gastrointestinal tract and can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.  Common symptoms of current variants is a mild fever, sore throat, congestion, and dry cough.  

Mask mandates and social distancing enforcement has all but lapsed with mandates lifted virtually everywhere due to the decreased mortality rate and population fatigue, increased vaccination rates or immunity from prior infection.   It does seem that immunity is not long lasting from the vaccine, with boosters being recommended especially with the vulnerable population.    Still with 2.88 Million Cases in the last 28 days in the US we see that the virus is still with us.   Many suggest that these numbers are grossly inaccurate as with increased home testing, and asymptomatic cases these cases go unreported.   Most businesses (if they survived)  have opened up, and and initially faced with the challenges of finding employees are now considering layoffs with a worldwide recession on the horizon.    It may now be less important to minimize the chances of infection and a surge/new waves by staying at least 6 feet from others (hard to do on a plane? Flights are now packed.   Masks are no longer mandated on US airlines.    We have resumed gatherings (especially outdoors), but you still should wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and don’t touch your eyes, mouth, nose and avoid others if they are coughing or appear ill.

Evidence suggests that the type of mask (N-95 or KN95 preferred) if well fitting may make a difference.   Many still think the masks were useless.  This is clearly the case if you were gathered with healthy people.  With roughly 1% of the US population  currently infected and many of these are self isolating, packed indoor bars with infected individuals screaming, singing or just talking may infect many in just one evening.   Consider a waiter going from table to table perhaps exposing 5+ people with each order.  In this case, it makes complete sense for servers to wear masks or test daily.   Clearly, it is not necessary to stay away from uninfected but we are learning that  asymptomatic and vaccinated  individuals can be shedding the virus and infect you.  We are also now very aware that vaccination does not necessarily prevent infection, it is designed and effective to decrease the risk of hospitalization or death.   People have now become complacent with the low numbers and better treatment and vaccines.   We now have Paxlovid in the US.  This antiviral combination was tested on an unvaccinated population and received Emergency Use Authorization and is being prescribed to decrease the chance of hospitalization or death in mild to moderate cases in higher risk individuals.   If you have a severe infection, you must seek medical attention ASAP.  You may be a candidate for infusions to help fight the infection.    We are developing our  “new normal”.  You don’t have to like it but you will have to accept it because it appears that nothing is changing any time soon.

The Corona outbreak of 2019-2021

Americans lockdowns were lifted and not surprisingly the Covid Crisis is getting worse in pockets.   According to Johns Hopkins, there are about 16 Million (8/07/2021)  active cases worldwide.  The number is just a rough estimate and is certainly much higher (10-100X) as only a fraction have been tested and there are a considerable number of false negatives.  Many patients with mild symptoms were turned away from testing sites or never pursued a test or sought medical attention.  With greater test availability centers are testing asymptomatic individuals.

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It was magical thinking to think that the US would be spared. The key is taking EVERY precaution to continue to minimize the effect the Corona Virus Pandemic has on our country.  What is the Government doing to mitigate the loss of life? Was the stock market reaction an over reaction?  Is the stock market laughing off  the greatest recession since the great depression?  Are the unemployment numbers meaningless? Are we headed for a second dip in the market?  Will we retest the bottom or are keep soaring to new highs. Contribute funds to educate and disseminate information and help those in need.

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It was magical thinking to think that the US would be spared. The key is taking EVERY precaution to minimize the effect the Corona Virus Pandemic will have on our country.What is the Government doing to mitigate the loss of life? Is the stock market reaction an over reaction? Contribute funds to educate and disseminate information.

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