Coronavirus – What We Know So Far (written February, 2019)


Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez

Coronavirus Disease 2019 Graphic. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario “Charo” Gutierrez)

Morgan Romanski and Kymberly Francis

The coronavirus epidemic is sweeping the world, more specifically China. Over 300 people have died so far, and that number continues to grow. There is a lot of false information circulating about coronavirus that can cause unnecessary panic. It’s time to learn the facts.

The first time this coronavirus was identified was actually 31 December 2019. It originated in Wuhan, China, and was possibly spread by animals that were in the live markets. 

Most people are unaware that coronavirus is not the official name of the disease, but it is just the family of viruses this disease belongs to. In fact, coronaviruses can cause extremely common illnesses as minute as a cold.

Not only are coronaviruses common, but this isn’t the first coronavirus epidemic we have ever faced. Previously, coronaviruses like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) have caused international concern. Both of these outbreaks were handled, and they are no longer a public health threat. 

Only 11 cases of 2019-nCoV (2019 novel coronavirus)  have been reported in the U.S., and every patient that has coronavirus has either been to Wuhan or was in contact with someone who went to Wuhan. Only two cases of human-to-human transmission cases have been reported to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the United States. As long as you don’t go to Wuhan or interact with anybody who has recently gone there, you will not get the virus.

Coronavirus spreads through the droplets from one’s nose or mouth, so masks should be worn by anyone who may have coronavirus. It can be contracted by touching your face, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands, breathing in contaminated air, or simply by being near someone with coronavirus, as it can enter through the eyes as well (yes, the eyes).