Plague, Spanish flu, H1N1, and now the Coronavirus – all declared pandemics at one point or another by the World Health Organization (WHO). Pandemic refers to the widespread epidemic of a contagious disease throughout a country or two or more continents. (Rutherford, 2016.) These diseases swept the world and took the media for a spin at their peak. Most recently the Coronavirus has been making headlines since the first reported cases in the United States. What started out as a virus that was considered akin to the flu has turned into a pandemic bringing fear and uncertainty to the lives of everyone globally, more than I can ever remember. Going back to my earlier childhood years, I remember 9/11, the war on Iraq, the Recession, new flu strands, Zika virus and H1N1. These events had devastating effects on the economy, morale, and each led to many deaths. The one thing I know is that neither created a global panic in the way that COVID-19 is doing today. Everyone’s emotions right now are in a haze from the hours of incendiary news feed coverage. Even children are scared and unsure of what to do. Heartbreaking, but true – My 8 year old son said to me this morning, “Mom, I wish the coronavirus would go away. I know that it can kill people including kids like me and I don’t want that to happen.” Their school is doing a great job at communicating safety tips and age-appropriate content, but the rhetoric and parroting of news outlets that kids are hearing from friends and parents is turning into unexplainable fear.
What do we do? Let’s stick to the facts. CDC tell us that the COVID-19 is an upper-respiratory tract illness that has not been previously seen transmitted in humans. It is a new strain of coronavirus. To clarify, coronaviruses are not new. There are many coronaviruses that we know transmit from human to human, but COVID-19 is a novelty. The first case reported was near a live animal market in China & later exposure extended to the United States due to travel and close proximity. What can you expect? Symptoms vary from person to person, though the most common are fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The key now is to protect ourselves and others. We can do this by cleaning our hands often, avoiding close contact with others, staying home if sick, covering coughs & sneezes, and cleaning & disinfecting. Remember to keep yourself, your families and pets safe, but above all please stay calm.
For more information, please refer to reputable sources that are tracking and informing on the issue such as https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html or https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus.