By: Robin Pyatt Bellamy, Mountaineer News Contributor
Posted: March 08, 2020 | 04:49AM EST
I’m sure you’ve heard about the Corona virus, more properly known as Covid-19. It’s scary and it kills people. The likelihood that it will YOU however is pretty slim. Seriously, pretty slim.
Covid-19 began in Wuhan, China in December 2019. “Corona” is the name of what is normally a mild, cold-like virus. Most people have been infected with coronaviruses at some point in their lives and the majority of these infections are easily dealt with. Unfortunately, having antibodies to these forms of corona viruses doesn’t make you immune. It’s sort of like chicken pox and shingles. We all get it (or have the vaccine) and we carry that with us the rest of our lives. Most people never give it another thought; but some people get very sick with
shingles, sometimes carrying the negative effects the rest of their lives.
We know of two types of corona virus that affect humans quite severely. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS- CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) are probably familiar terms. As far back as September 2019, researchers were investigating a new form of MERS, new being called “novel” because it wasn’t something they had experience with. It had been identified in Saudi Arabia (and acquired by contact with camels or infected humans) back in 2012 and is now worldwide, just like SARS and MERS. There have been at least 845 MERS-CoV-related deaths in 27 countries since September 2012. In 2017, one MERS patient in Riyadh directly infected 16 patients, leading to an outbreak that infected 44 more in under two weeks.
These corona viruses have symptoms much like pneumonia. It can also cause renal and cardiac failure. Yet in North America nobody freaked out-most of us only heard of those in passing. Some of the larger populated areas were concerned about SARS but few isolated from exposure. COVID-19 cases can all be traced back to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan. The outbreak spread across China to other countries around the world, infecting many more people than SARS-CoV did.
One of the problems with COVID-19 is that is presents very similar symptoms of the other two more well known corona viruses. Respiratory problems like pneumonia, fever, general malaise and other flu-like symptoms are common. The difference is how quickly it spreads and how risky it can be for those who don’t fight off this sort of thing due to an underlying condition or advanced age.
Caught off guard, 74,576 people were infected between mid- December 2019 and mid-February 2020. At that point it had killed some 2,118 in mainland China, two people in Hong Kong, one in the Philippines, three in Japan, one in France, one person in Taiwan, one person in South Korea, and two people in Iran With news of a COVID-19 death in Washington state recently, we North Americans collective freaked out.
This new corona virus tends to make people sicker than others and spread more rapidly. We know that it spreads from person to person via particles in saliva and other bodily fluids, but research is still ongoing about other possible reasons for the wide spread. What it doesn’t do is infect people who haven’t been exposed to it.
If you have been in close contact with people who have recently (say, the last six months or so) been to China, or those who been to Iran, you should probably be concerned. This is very rare, however, especially in places like West Virginia. Chinese (or other oriental) people are not carriers simply by being of Chinese heritage. If you were in an airplane or cruise ship with someone who has test positive, raise your awareness and watch closely as it has quickly spread to North America that way. What’s important to understand, however, is more than 3,200 people (worldwide) have died, but more than 51,000 have completely recovered.
If you have symptoms of a corona type virus and believe you have been around someone who recently traveled, you are expected to self isolate. If you don’t have symptoms or exposure, that isn’t necessary. It’s important to be logical as well as careful. Healthcare workers in West Virginia aren’t at risk simply because they work in heath care. You don’t have to avoid them. Chinese Americans who run restaurants aren’t giving it to you in your food. You can’t catch COVID-19 at the small town restaurant where you get your fried rice-at least not right now.
People are buying large amounts of toilet paper, and shelves have been cleared of those surgical type masks. This is a giant waste of money. It’s not a flood or tornado. Your normal amount of toilet paper should be plenty. The only people who benefit from masks are those who ALREADY ARE SICK. Masks only help prevent the sick person from spreading it to others. People will catch in in dozens of other ways before they will be protected by those masks.
It’s also important to understand the difference between isolation and insulation. If you have symptoms, stay home and away from others. If you are sick and have been possibly exposed (by those travelers who carry it), request testing. Isolate yourself so you don’t pass on the virus. The rest of us should do what we should be doing anyway. Cover your cough or sneeze, keep your hands away from your face, don’t travel if you are sick, and wash those hands several times a day.
Unfortunately most people are actually insulating, not isolating. We try to protect ourselves by taking extreme measures. Why? Because media, especially social media, paints any possible problem as catastrophic. Isolation, avoiding anyone who looks like they might be oriental, or not drinking a particular beer is insulation. It’s also ridiculous-particularly if the only exposure you’ve had to the virus is from Facebook or Twitter.
Insulation hurts an awful lot of people. It negatively affects the economy-especially those small local businesses who depend on a certain level of sales to survive. It furthers the fear. It can also negatively affect your mental health. Fear is one of the most dangerous mental health issues. It causes us to make poor decisions, sometimes to the point where we are no long a functioning part of society. Isolation hurts friendships and families, can cause you to lose your job, and can cause you to have enough water and toilet paper in your house to be a
candidate for the tv show “Hoarders”.
The bottom line? If you live in West Virginia, especially in an area that doesn’t see a lot of foreign visitors or those who travel for work, you’re probably not going to be exposed. As of this writing (March 7, 2020) there are NO cases of it in West Virginia. All you will accomplish is isolation. If you do travel and have a fever or a cough, cancel your plans (isolate), but otherwise go eat that fried rice. Your mental health depends on it.
Robin Pyatt Bellamy was born in Point Pleasant, WV in 1961 and grew up in Ravenswood. She is a professional paranormal researcher, family history researcher, and author. Currently living in Toronto, Canada she is the mother of three adult children, grandma to two littles, and a modern day “southern belle”.