Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. The new disease called Covid-19 has appeared in humans, causing flu-symptoms. According to the Telegraph UK, 83,000 people are known to be infected and more than 2,800 deaths have been recorded. In New York, at the time this issue is published there are two confirmed cases of the virus, raising the possibility that the virus is spreading locally. The MTA will disinfect subways every 72 hours according to officials. According to CNN reporter Christina Maxouris, the US death toll stands at nine victims, all from Washington State. There are also 130 known cases across 13 states.
Economists are fearing that the virus will bring about major damage to the global economy. The current value of the Dow Jones stands at -374.24, the worst one it has seen in years. Apple Inc. has also taken a massive hit. A day ago the stock closed at 273.36 (-0.16) because the phones themselves are assembled in China. This massive shake-up of the stock market has understandably caused many to be worried about the state of their investments. Ron Lieber, a reporter for the New York Times, makes it very clear that there is no need to worry. He assures stockholders that “If you’re on the cusp of retirement, keep in mind that the big idea here is to live at least 20 more years, which is usually plenty of time for stocks to bounce back from even an extended decline in the stock market”.
Experts are not yet sure as to what caused the virus and where it originated from. Unfortunately, the investigations have been tainted by conspiracy theories and misinformation. Theories range from the virus being a leaked bioweapon, or that it came from a lab in Wuhan, China. One theory that is supported by evidence is that the virus might’ve originated from bats. Carolyn Machamer, a professor of cell biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says “The bat virus can infect an intermediate animal, and during that replication, mutations arise that could promote infection in humans if they are in close contact”. Another theory reported by nature.com suggests that pangolins are the animal source of the coronavirus outbreak. It seems possible, but experts advise caution because the researchers’ work is yet to be published in full.
The hysteria and racism which has recently been surrounding the Coronavirus has started to affect Asian-owned businesses, especially those that are owned by Chinese-Americans. According to ABC7, Krystal Zhong, who is the owner of 47 Beauty Studio in Great Neck is finding it difficult to get customers. Tina Zhang, owner of New Fu Run Restaurant in Great Neck, is also struggling with a 30 to 40 percent drop in business since mid-January. There are politicians who are working to ensure that this doesn’t continue. One of them is Senator Anna Kaplan (D-Carle Place) who hosted a luncheon at Zhang’s restaurant to show that it is safe to eat at Chinese restaurants.
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has links on its website relating to the virus. The symptoms are fever, cough, shortness of breath and may appear 2-14 days after exposure. You should call a healthcare professional if symptoms develop. The facemask should only be worn by people who show symptoms of COVID-19. And as always, wash your hands often and for 20 seconds. The CDC website also has a section called “Stigma and Resiliency” which addresses the racism surrounding the virus.
A lot is being done to aid in curing the virus. One thing that’s being done is the screening of travelers. The CDC had implemented early screening at airports in San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Atlanta (ATL), and Chicago (ORD). A level 3 travel warning has also been issued. A vaccine is also in development, but experts fear it may not be enough.
It is important to remember to stay strong, live, and ally with others in times of crisis. Do not spread false information or racist stereotypes. Panicking won’t help at all, but staying calm will. Finally, please wash your hands.