The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has set off waves of panic as well as dismissal amongst the public. This is especially true amongst students at Morro Bay High School after cases were reported from North and South San Luis Obispo Counties. With the temporary closure of Morro Bay High School, it’s undeniable that this virus is affecting students’ everyday life. The media, whether through social media or the news, may be spreading misinformation that can cause unnecessary panic or dangerous nonchalance. It’s crucial for students to know the facts in order to maintain good personal and public health. All facts below are taken from the CDC official website in order to inform MBHS students.
Myth: Coronavirus is like the flu.
Fact: The coronavirus has symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from mild illness to severe illness and death. Symptoms appear 2-14 days after incubation, and can be passed through carriers even if symptoms are not shown. This “novel coronavirus” is a coronavirus that has not previously been identified, meaning this is a new virus. It is not like the coronavirus that more commonly circulates around humans and causes symptoms like the common cold. This COVID-19 strain has never been identified before in humans, according to the World Health Organization. The virus is contracted by the virus coming into contact with people’s eyes, nose, or mouth, so it is important to wash hands and cover mouths when coughing. Additionally, people who are actively sick with the virus must be quarantined until no longer sick. This time differs with each individual case. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html).
Myth: Only old people can suffer from Coronavirus.
Fact: Early information from cases in China show that people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease are at risk. Older adults, not just the very elderly, are also considered to be at risk. Anyone of any age who has pre-existing conditions like asthma, weakened immune systems, diabetes, obesity, and more are also most at-risk. Women who are pregnant are more at risk. If these groups of people are exposed to the virus by a carrier who is close to them, they have higher chances of getting it and lower chances of survival. Symptoms can be as severe as developing pneumonia, kidney failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and death. If left untreated (as health care facilities become overwhelmed with exponential increases in cases) anyone with the virus may suffer from these symptoms. Infants and children have contracted the virus, although they are at lower risk of exposure. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/summary.html#risk-assessment) (https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus)
Myth: I should wear a mask to make sure I don’t get COVID-19.
Fact: According to the Center for Disease Control, you should only wear a mask if a doctor recommends it. People who have symptoms or who have the virus should wear masks to stop the spread of the virus. Health workers should also use special masks to avoid contracting the virus on the job. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html)
Myth: If I’m not feeling sick it’s okay to meet up with large groups.
Fact: According to the Center for Disease Control, the risk for Americans changes daily. At the time of writing this article, the risk of exposure is relatively low compared to other parts of the world. However, the risk of getting the virus through community spread (when someone in the community gets it and starts the outbreak in their own area) is high. This means even if you don’t have any symptoms you can still be exposed by someone else who is a carrier. Friends may be exposed to people who have it and in turn pass it on to you. It is predicted that in the coming months, the majority of US citizens will be exposed to the virus, according to the Center for Disease Control. Social distancing is important to “flatten the curve”, or lower the number of cases that need to be treated in the same amount of time, so as not to bombard health care services with patients. There is limited testing and space for people with the virus. Flattening the curve will ensure more patients can get treated and help to decrease the number of deaths from the virus.
Myth: If I think I have the virus I should go to the doctor.
Fact: If you are showing symptoms, stay home. Call your healthcare provider. People who are immunocompromised should call even if they have mild symptoms. Because tests are limited and the virus is extremely contagious, it’s important to call ahead to get instruction from health care providers. Simply walking into the emergency room or other health care clinic can potentially expose people unnecessarily, including those who are at high risk. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#anchor_1584389201096)
Myth: The coronavirus was created by people in a conspiracy.
Fact: The virus has been traced to wet markets (varieties of live animals kept in cages stacked on top of each other) in Wuhan, China, and the virus is traced to have come from the conditions of the animals and spread to humans. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html).
Myth: A specific individual or group can be blamed for COVID-19.
Fact: Blaming or targeting a group of individuals, according to the Center for Disease Control, demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the coronavirus. Groups like Asian Americans have been targeted and blamed for the spread of the virus due to myths and spreading of rumors and gossip. This leads to anger and fear, hurting everyone as energy is directed against innocent people instead of dealing with the actual problem of combating the illness.
This virus is unprecedented in our history with its global spread and the precautions taken to combat it. How the people of the world react to it is crucial to its spread or its containment. If you have questions about COVID-19, check for information from the official CDC website or the World Health Organization website linked below. The students of Morro Bay High School can do their part to stay educated and keep the community healthy.
For daily updates on the statistics of cases in the United States, check this link from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html