Why fighting the coronavirus depends on you

by birtanpublished on June 30, 2020

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization
made an announcement

"In the past two weeks,

the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China

has increased 13-fold

COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic"

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, disease had
already overwhelmed China, South Korea, Iran, and

Italy

And this was a warning to other countries
where it was now spreading quickly

In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see
the number of cases, deaths, and affected

countries climb even higher

The spread of COVID-19 was no longer something
that could be stopped

But we can still slow it down

We just have to act right now

Someone with COVID-19 usually develops a fever,
fatigue, and a cough

Aches, pains, and other mild symptoms are
also possible, but are less frequent

But the severity of those symptoms varies
And for some people who get the virus, you

might never show symptoms at all

In 80% of cases, people experience only mild disease

But in 20% of cases, the disease can manifest in a more serious way

Overall, it seems like about 1 to 2% of known
cases lead to death But that rate is much

lower for young people, and much higher for
the elderly

The virus also seems to be very contagious — more contagious than the flu

After getting infected, it can take an average
of 5-6 days before you feel sick, and your

symptoms start to appear

But you can already spread it to other people
in that period, even if you feel healthy

Just as people realize they're sick, they seem to be at the most risk

of passing it along to others

That’s how the virus has been so effective
at spreading across the world so quickly

And why the WHO was now calling COVID-19 a
pandemic

But what they said next was just as important:

"We cannot say this loudly enough

All countries can still change the course of this pandemic"

And that depends on something each of us needs
to do as individuals

In any hospital, the capacity to treat patients
is limited by how many beds they have

Think of this as the number of beds in your
local hospital at any given time

A couple are already filled by patients receiving
treatment for things like a car accident injury

or a stroke

And this dot represents one person who’s
healthy and decides to go out like usual

They jump on the subway and head into the
office Where they catch COVID-19

But they don't feel sick right away, and might
not for several days

So, later they go to a basketball game

Where they unknowingly infect two or three
more people

Most of these people will have relatively
mild cases, but one might be an elderly person

with a severe case who will eventually have
to go to the hospital

But these three, who are all infected but
don’t feel sick, go out again:

On the subway, into the office, and then out after work, infecting several more people,

twenty percent of whom will need to go to
the hospital

Over a short period of time, this process
multiplies the number of people going to the

hospital each day

Before long, the hospital is full and a crisis
begins

People with severe cases of COVID-19 can’t
get treatment,

and some who could be saved, die

Plus, people with other issues can’t get
treatment either and some of them die

This surge of severe cases causes avoidable
deaths

That’s what happened in South Korea,
Iran, and Italy, all of which went from 100

to more than 5,000 cases in less
than 2 weeks

A lot of people died because they couldn’t
get into the hospitals

This surge is made up of only the severe cases,
but it was generated by people who didn’t

feel sick, spreading the disease in public

Which means the people who can do the most
to avoid these unnecessary deaths, are these people

And that means all of us

To slow the virus down, you need to act as if you already have it

By avoiding public transportation, the office, crowded places, and even small social gatherings,

you decrease your chances of both
getting the disease, and spreading it

This is called social distancing

If enough of us do it, the virus still spreads,
but much slower

Over time, many people might still get infected, but fewer severe cases show up to the hospital

each day, never overwhelming the system

This trendline gets flatter, these people
can all get treatment, and fewer people die

because of it

These are the two ways the COVID-19 pandemic
can play out

But this one only happens if everyone does
their part

And it's why experts and officials are urging
people to “flatten the curve” by social

distancing, and staying home as much as possible

It’s also why In the US, many companies
are helping by requiring employees to work

from home and major sports leagues have cancelled
their games for the time being

It may seem drastic but it’s worked before

In 1918, the cities of Philadelphia and St
Louis were both hit by a flu pandemic, but

they responded in different ways

In Philadelphia, health officials allowed
a huge parade to go ahead

While in St Louis, officials prepared They
closed schools, theaters, and bars

Philadelphia’s hospitals were overwhelmed
and many more died as a result

But St Louis was able to avoid those excessive
deaths

A hundred years later, these are the two scenarios
we face

A difference not in whether you get the coronavirus,
but when you get it

That could mean the difference between life
and death, maybe for someone you know

But we have to act now

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