In one day, our world – the entire world, planet Earth – has been turned upside down. In December, 2019, the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province in China reported a pneumonia outbreak of unknown cause. The rest of the world watched this report, mildly interested. We didn’t think anything of it. The outbreak was believed to have started at a local seafood/wild animal market. In January of 2020, the virus was pinpointed to be a novel coronavirus (nCoV) strain. That was the first time we heard the word coronavirus and it has now become part of our daily thoughts, conversations, and worries.
The virus spread quickly through China. Travelers then unknowingly spread the virus to the rest of the world. Reports started to come in at the end of January that this disease was spreading rapidly. Air travel, railway travel and cruise ships seemed to breed the virus. People in China were checked with thermometers as this virus first causes a fever then a cough. At the end of January, due to the number of people who had the virus, WHO declared a PHEIC (Public Health Emergency of International Concern). Anyone who had traveled to China was told to stay at home and quarantine themselves for 14 days.
The coronavirus became known as COVID-19. Unfortunately, the efforts made by countries to quarantine people, were too late. On March 11, 2020 the disease had spread to every continent except Antarctica. The ECDC stated that COVID-19 was not containable and would overwhelm the healthcare system in a matter of days. Italy has been the hardest hit. Spain is close behind with the number of cases and deaths. Now the United States seems to be mirroring Italy.
No one knows how this will continue. There is no vaccine. Scientists and doctors are working at a furious pace to find answers to this pandemic. Ventilators, protective equipment, hospital beds cannot be made quickly enough for the demand. Doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, EMTs and firefighters are desperate for protective equipment and it seems as if the rest of the country and the President do not seem to understand the urgency. We have dedicated, devoted, wonderful people on the front lines trying to save lives and yet the President is calling these people whiners.
The states of New York, Washington and California are hardest hit. But each state is feeling the uncertainty and apprehension of this disease. Schools across the nation have been closed. People have been told to stay at home and practice social distancing. Restaurants, bars, hair salons, plus so many other businesses are closed. People are staying at home to work while their children do their schoolwork at home.
Going to grocery stores and seeing empty shelves is heart wrenching. The most difficult things to get are toilet paper, paper towels, any paper products and cleaning products. Those of us who dare to go out, try to wear a mask and gloves. Unfortunately, there are too many people who go without, not understanding or caring about the seriousness of the situation.
This is a respiratory disease and people most susceptible are the elderly, cancer patients, respiratory patients and anyone with a lowered immune system. Watching the news every night with updates on how many more cases we have in each state and the number of deaths is heart wrenching. Yet hearing how the wealthy are benefiting from this pandemic by dealing in the stock market, makes me sick. There is a special place in hell for people who only care about remaining in power and making more money for themselves. But this is the world we live in.
I take heart when I hear how many people are helping their neighbors and friends. There are a lot of good people who are doing the right thing and doing what they can for others. All the nurses, doctors, EMTs, firefighters, and healthcare workers are my heroes. My youngest daughter is going to be graduating as a nurse and will be joining that line. I am proud of her but I worry for her. So many of these heroes have contracted the disease themselves and have died from it. It was thought this would only affect the old. But young and fit people have succumbed to this disease.
Where and when this will end, I don’t think anyone can answer. All we can do right now is wait and watch. And pray.