What to Know About the Coronavirus

For frequent, up-to-date information on the Coronavirus and what you can do, visit CDC.

On January 20, 2022, a new coronavirus outbreak caused the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee (IHR) to declare it as a “public health emergency of international concern.” The following day, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declared a public health emergency for the United States.

Photo From Carl Court/Getty Images
Americans get transferred to military bases in the United States after COVID-19 spread through their cruise ship, the Diamond Princess. The ship had docked in Japan when the virus made its way on board.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that contain strains—a variant of microorganisms including a virus, bacterium, or fungus—which can infect both animals and people. Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) was first recognized in Wuhan, China, a city in Central China’s Hubei province. The city is currently under quarantine. COVID-19 causes respiratory symptoms ranging from a common cold to pneumonia to death. It is moderately infections, mainly passed from person to person, and has a mortality rate ranging from 0.7% to up to 4% worldwide. The seasonal flu has an annual mortality rate of less than 1%.

Most of the first cases of Wuhan Coronavirus are believed to have originated from an animal market, which has now been shut down. Originally, snakes were suspected as a potential suspect, but experts are proposing bats or pangolins. Currently, animal origin is still under investigation.

As of March 3, over 92,000 people spread across 65 countries have been infected with the coronavirus, the majority in China (over 80,000). However, these numbers aren’t the amount of current active cases\; many people have recovered from the virus. There are at least 108 cases in the United States, all connected with overseas travel, and two positive cases in San Diego.

Photo From Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The streets in Wuhan, China are vacant. The city was put in quarantine after outbreaks of COVID-19 began.

CDC—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—has reported the risk level of visiting certain countries. China is the biggest avoidance for all non-essential travel, with Iran, Japan, Italy, and South Korea following as countries at risk. In response to the outbreak, some airlines have suspended or modified travel to mainland China.

The CDC has stated that Americans should prepare when the virus incorporates itself into their daily lives, which could include closing schools and working from home. The spread of COVID-19 is inevitable.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier said, a top director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus had seemed to reach its apex during February, but the number of cases outside of mainland China has more than doubled over the last week. Currently, the virus isn’t showing signs of calming down.

Scientists are working to understand the virus and develop a vaccine, but an official vaccine hasn’t been declared yet. There is still a lot that’s unknown regarding COVID-19 as well as how the virus spreads, but from recent statistics, it is likely that the virus will continue to spread.

“There’s no numerical definition of a pandemic — like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder,” Infectious disease specialist William Schaffner said.”I think we’re right on the edge of it.”

Photo Courtesy of 胡小春 (Xiaochun Hu)
Citizens in Nanning, China leave the streets empty as they stay in their homes. The sign reads “Wash you hands often, keep fresh air in; wear a face mask, prevent infection.”

CDC emphasizes that a coronavirus pandemic is not currently in the United States, however, the global situation is quickly growing. As COVID-19 is spreading around the world, officials say not to panic but to prepare. While a vaccine hasn’t been developed yet, researchers and scientists are working hard on developing one, and a number of precautions are recommended by CDC, including:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid close contact with those that are sick. (6 feet)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands aren’t washed.
  • Clean and sanitize frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Also, the California Department of Public Health does not recommend using face masks as prevention and says that washing your hands gives better protection against infectious diseases.

Coronaviruses are nothing new. The Wuhan Coronavirus is, however. A lot is still unknown about COVID-19, but many scientists are researching and working on developing a vaccine right now. Though the spread of Coronavirus may be inevitable, the best thing to do is prepare and remember that global mortality rates are 4% or below, even less if China isn’t accounted for. The habits of COVID-19 are unpredictable, scientists don’t know how long this will last, though with all past outbreaks, this one will eventually come to an end.