Coronavirus spreads fears of pandemic

© HAWKEYE Nicole Francois

By Casey Carpenter, Hawkeye Staff

Concerns over the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 forced the closure of Bothell High School late last month following heightened concerns raised over the mysterious illness.

“It’s not a question of if but rather a question of when and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), told reporters Feb. 26, warning if the virus spreads widely, drastic methods might be required to contain it, such as closing schools and requiring employees to work from home. “The disruption to everyday life might be severe,” she said. The NCIRD is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in January. Sources say it possibly originated from the consumption of bat meat. Causing more than 2,500 deaths and infecting more than 80,000 people world-wide, the coronavirus is no laughing matter.

The first instance of coronavirus in the United States occurred in Everett, just 14 miles away from MTHS. Despite being put under quarantine for a week, the victim was eventually released on Feb. 3. The virus is currently present in almost all of China, where 96 percent of the infected population resides, as well as surrounding countries, the United States, Europe, Iran, northern Africa and many other areas, according to the CDC. The only continent not impacted is Antarctica.

The virus was apparently transmitted from animals to humans, then human to humans through coughing, sneezing and close contact with a person or an object carrying the virus. Common symptoms of the virus include fever, mild breathing difficulties, intestinal issues, diarrhea and general body aches. After two to seven days, a dry cough begins to develop. Potentially severe symptoms include a high fever (100.4 degrees or higher), pneumonia and kidney failure. There are also many other ways to prevent getting or spreading the virus, like wearing a respirator, washing your hands and avoiding large crowds.