Written by Pablo Reid (News Writer)
“How did it spread so quickly, if we knew about it for months?”, asks junior Alex Castro. The coronavirus, a new disease for which there is no known cure, has spread rapidly throughout the world since it began in Wuhan, China. In the United States, it has forced schools like SLV to shut down, businesses to close, and caused many states to issue shelter in place orders, forbidding Americans from leaving their houses for anything but essential errands. Although the death rate is still low for the US, the threat is high and the cost, both economic and human, grows greater every day. As a result, many people are wondering why the virus spread so quickly, and whether this could have been prevented, especially when we had information about the coronavirus in advance.
Although some politicians were optimistic that the virus could be contained, most experts warned that it was a matter of when, and not if, it would reach the US. As the world watched it move through China, many scientists warned that the US was not adequately equipped to handle an outbreak and that more funding was needed to prepare. Nevertheless, President Trump– who had already tried to cut the funding for the Center for Disease Control earlier–downplayed concerns about the virus. At rallies, on twitter, and in White House press conferences, he reiterated that the crisis had been overblown by the media and the Democrats, stressing that the flu had killed more than the coronavirus.
Initially, he appeared correct. In the first few weeks of the outbreak, the only Americans with the coronavirus were people returning from China, who were screened and then placed into quarantine. Some large groups that had been left behind were evacuated and stationed at military facilities and, once they recovered, released. There were no unknown cases in the US and person-to-person transmission was limited only to the family members of the infected.
Things did not stay that way for long. Even though travel bans against China had been put into place, the virus quickly spread to other countries in Asia and Europe. The more it spread, the more difficult it became for American airports to identify the disease. This was aggravated by the fact that people with no symptoms can have the coronavirus and spread it. In fact, Covid-19 has an incubation period of around two weeks. Inevitably, then, the coronavirus entered the US through multiple people and in multiple places. After that, a number of cases of ‘community spread’ appeared, meaning that the person who had it hadn’t been to an infected area or been close to somebody who had. From there, the situation resulted in lockdowns and the national crisis of which we are in.
Now that the outbreak has developed into a national problem, Trump has responded emphatically. He created a disease task force, led by Vice-President Pence and Dr. Fauci (an experienced doctor who led the US response to ebola), and encouraged governors to limit travel in as much as possible their states. He has also passed several relief bills giving millions to the healthcare system and has asked companies to start producing testing equipment and medical supplies. Finally, Trump has started deploying the military to help with efforts to combat the disease. Nevertheless, the US healthcare system still suffers from a lack of testing equipment, ventilators, hospital beds, and masks. Many states warn that the deficit is in the tens of thousands, and likely to increase as the virus spreads. As such, it is essential that people self isolate. This can limit the coronavirus’ spread, meaning that fewer lives will be lost and that our healthcare system will have more time to prepare and supply for the outbreak.
For many of us at SLV, this is the most serious event we’ve lived through. While the death rate is much, much, lower for young people, it’s still vitally important for us not to infect others who could be more at risk, even if that means spending a few weeks bored at home. Minimizing the virus’s spread is essential to our recovery.