Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

This new virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or Sars-CoV-2. The disease it causes is called Covid-19. Source: Wall Street Journal. This is a serious disease – “a potential pandemic.” They think it originated in a (animal) market in Wuhan, China, on December 1, 2019. As of March 3, 2020, the WHO reports that there are 92,315 confirmed cases – 3,131 deaths; 60 cases in the US and 6 deaths.

The WHO and the CDC are monitoring the disease very closely, and they are taking measures to minimize the spread of the disease – no thanks to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, his appointed “White House coronavirus response coordinator.” Source: Politico.com

Countries like China (Wuhan specifically) have been shut down; affecting the global economy. Hong Kong, Italy, Spain, South Korean, Japan, and Iran have also been hit hard. There’s talk of a global recession if this goes on for too much longer. (President Trump says it will be over by April, because of the warmer weather.)

A big health concern is the massing of people: any place or event where people gather is considered dangerous. The Summer Olympics, scheduled to open in Tokyo, Japan, on July 24, are in danger of being cancelled – or at best delayed for months. “March Madness” basketball tournaments might be played without fans. The Major League Baseball Opening Day is scheduled for March 26; they’re monitoring the situation.

UPDATE 3/15/2020

Last week the WHO declared COVID-19 is a pandemic. Things are getting worse in the United States. Tomorrow, we’re starting to work from home and shelter-in-place for at least 1 week and possibly up to 8 weeks. It is already affecting the US economy, and we are looking at a global recession. Mnuchin dropped the “we could reach 20% unemployment” bomb, and the Fed cut rates to 0.0%. Smaller restaurants and retail shops in my town – and every city and town – are closing; health departments are mandating bars & restaurants close dining rooms. Some restaurants are adjusting – drive through only, curbside delivery, home delivery, etc.

UPDATE 4/3/2020

Coronavirus map 4-2-2020
Coronavirus map April 3, 2020. Source: Johns Hopkins University.

As of now there have been 1,076,017 cases worldwide and 58,004 deaths; 5,368 cases in Texas and 93 deaths. We’ve been ordered to continue to shelter-in-place until April 30.

Many States have postponed their Primaries until Summer. The 2020 Summer Olympics have been postponed until July 2021.

What’s New With Swine Flu (H1N1 2009)

A couple buzzwords have surfaced as a result of the H1N1 (swine) flu.

Social distancing” and “pandemic” are the latest additions to the vernacular. Avoiding crowds of people where the risk of infection is the highest is the social distance thought to reduce the spread of swine flu. It’s an airborne virus and is thought to spread quickly among people in close contact. If we avoid contact we avoid infection.

The word pandemic has been around for as long as there as been people on every continent getting sick. But, with this year’s swine flu outbreak – thought to originate in Mexico – it has been tossed around the media like a catch phrase. Yes, swine flu is pandemic simply because it has spread around the world in a few weeks.

What’s interesting is if you read my other story today is that technology – specifically the Internet – is being used to fight the disease. Twitter is buzzing with swine flu tweets. But like everything important, people should look before they leap.

Public health experts say the Internet can be an important source of information on the H1N1 virus, but you need to know who’s at the helm. “In the current swine flu situation, some [sources] are alarmist, where others present a more balanced picture of concern,” says Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, director of communicable disease control and prevention for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health.

On the other hand, knowledgeable, trusted sources, like the CDC, are on the Internet too and they are trying to spread the word faster than the disinformation sources and rumor mills.

Lest we forget pig farmers are non too happy with calling it swine flu. Pork belly futures are down; sales are lower. So, officials are using the scientific name Influenza A H1N1.