By Kendra Sommers, SBM Culture Editor
Contrary to global panic, while over 100,000 individuals as of right now have been confirmed with COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, 4,089 have died, while over 60,000 individuals have recovered. The recovery rate is exponentially increasing, and while the loss of any amount of people is tragic, it is important to remember that all hope is not lost with this virus, with almost fifteen times more individuals recovering than those dying.
The disease has proved most fatal for, “elderly people [or those] with pre-existing health conditions.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed the coronavirus in 105 countries worldwide, present in all continents (besides Antarctica). The coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China, and by January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared a “public health emergency of international concern.”
COVID-19, along with other similar viruses, find their origins in bats and have been found in other animals like cattle and cats. In Wuhan, it is estimated that because of an abundant seafood and live animal market, there was some component of animal-to-person spread. Eventually this spiraled into person-to-person spread, now the most common way to catch this disease.
One of the most difficult components of identifying and diagnosing COVID-19 is that it can take up to five days to start showing symptoms, which can be often overlooked as cold or flu symptoms. Even without symptoms, if someone has been exposed to the coronavirus, they can be infectious carriers for up to two weeks.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the most common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, appearing up to two weeks after exposure. Other symptoms could include sore throat, runny nose and fatigue, however usually “runny nose, stuffy nose, and cough, may last up to 10-14 days, they will [also] usually improve during that time.”
According to scientist Robin Shattock of Imperial College London, most vaccines take up to two to three years before they are ever seen in a clinic being used. However, his work with a COVID-19 vaccine is already ready for animal testing and hopes to start human trials this summer.
Other organizations are also focused on finding a vaccine, including Inovio Pharmaceuticals in Philadelphia, looking for different approaches to address this disease.
Novavax, a biotech company in Maryland responsible for developing the Ebola vaccine, hoping to have a successful vaccine in the next few months.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is also, “funding four separate efforts to create a vaccine for the virus.”
Unfortunately, it is unlikely a vaccine will be developed in time to control the current international outbreak. This is why it is imperative that preventive exercises are maintained for everyone to stay healthy and stop the spread of COVID-19.
The CDC released a comprehensive list of ways to prevent this spread of disease:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick,
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth,
- Stay home when you are sick,
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash,
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe,
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Basic hygienic practices that one should already be observing are the best ways to prevent the spread of most diseases, not just COVID-19. The CDC only recommends wearing a facemask if you demonstrate any symptoms of the coronavirus or if you are taking care of someone who may have the coronavirus, including health workers.
Several universities have also cancelled classes due to the fear of continued spreading of COVID-19, especially with spring break occurring around this time for most universities with many students travelling. Harvard University, Amherst College, University of California Berkeley, Columbia University, Ohio State University, Princeton University, Seattle University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington are a few of the American universities that have cancelled classes in some form. Many have turned to online classes or different ways to continue the semester.
SPECIFIC TO MESSIAH COLLEGE
While at the moment, according to the mass email by Kathie Shafer, “the College has not made the decision to move classes online at this point, while you are away from spring break, there may be developments with the spread of COVID-19 that could affect your ability to return to campus.” The College is instructing that students prepare themselves for this event, bringing necessary items with them on their travel, including laptops, textbooks, medication and potential valuables.
In the event that classes are moved online, international students are able to remain in the country, according to an email from Lydia Skulstad, Assistant Director of International Student Programs.
The email stated that “the U.S. government issued guidance which would allow F-1 students to remain in the U.S. and complete online coursework if their institution has determined it is in the students’ best interest.”
It is also strongly advised to sign up for Messiah’s text alerts so you can receive new information and updates immediately.
Messiah College encourages students and faculty to follow CDC travel guidelines including unnecessary travel for those with the conditions listed, as well as international travel to high risk locations also listed.
Though several states have had confirmed cases of COVID-19, chances of contracting the virus are low. The risk of infection primarily extends to students who plan to travel in high risk countries outside of the United States.
An important thing to remember is that the virus is transmitted through exchanges in bodily fluids, not through touch. Regular hand washing is the best preventative method for getting sick with any kind of virus.
Most importantly, “Employees, educators and students should be aware that if you have been potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus during your travel, you should expect to be required to be self-quarantined and not return to campus for at least 14 days. Individuals in this situation should contact the Engle Center to make an appointment once they are able to return to campus to be evaluated before resuming their normal employee or student routine.”
The College asks that if you do plan to travel for spring break, that you fill out a travel form here.
Lastly, if you do experience any symptoms, it is important to contact the Engle Center at 717-691-6035 to either set up an appointment or report the illness, since all even speculated cases of COVID-19 are to be reported to the PA Department of Health.