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Mythbusting COVID-19

I’ve been seeing so much bad information about Coronavirus on my timeline that I felt I needed to set some things straight. This isn’t a matter of politics. The virus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Trump supporter. The facts are the facts.

Isn’t the flu more dangerous than COVID-19?

The virus is much more dangerous than the flu. The flu has killed more people so far, but that’s because the flu has been more widespread. The final numbers are not in on the Coronavirus but COVID-19 has higher rates of both mortality and infection than the flu.

The flu has a death rate of about 0.1 percent and each person with the flu infects about 1.3 other people on average. For Coronavirus, the death rate is estimated to be about two percent, possibly slightly lower and possibly higher. A Coronavirus victim also infects about 2.2 other people on average.

If you aren’t familiar with what death rates mean, the 0.1 percent rate for the flu means that there is about one fatality for every 1,000 cases. In contrast, the estimated two percent death rate for Coronavirus means that about 20 people would die for every 1,000 cases. In other words, the Coronavirus is about 20 times more lethal than the flu.

The fact that more people have died from the flu is because the flu has been more widespread so far. That is changing fast.

Aren’t we overreacting since the flu kills more people?

The current precautions are about prevention, not reaction. The Coronavirus is more dangerous so the objective is to limit its spread.

The goal is to slow the number of cases and the demand for hospital beds. If the virus surges through the population quickly, the number of patients will be more than the number of available hospital beds, intensive care units, and ventilators. That will mean that the death rate is much higher than it had to be.

Death rates are highest where hospitals are overwhelmed by patients. If half of the US population is infected, as health experts say is possible, the death toll could reach the millions, even with a death rate of “only” two percent.

There is no treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 and humans have no natural immunity to this new virus.

To this point, testing for COVID-19 has been a problem in the US. Many people have been infected with Coronavirus and don’t know it.

Doesn’t a two percent death rate mean a 98 percent chance of living?

Yes, but it might also mean spending a long time in an ICU and permanent lung damage.

Even if you survive COVID-19 you might infect other people who are higher-risk. You might be responsible for infecting elderly friends or relatives.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The main symptoms are a fever and a cough, although various other symptoms have been reported as well. If you have a fever and have trouble breathing, you should seek medical help.

The symptoms of Coronavirus are similar to the flu. An increase in influenza-like-illnesses, in which patients have symptoms of the flu but test negative for it may mask many cases of Coronavirus.

Do masks prevent the spread of the virus?

The CDC says that masks do not protect unsick people from contracting the virus. Masks should be used by sick people to keep from spreading the virus in aerosol droplets when they cough or sneeze.

How long has Coronavirus been in the US?

Coronavirus is new to the US. The first known case was in China in mid-November 2019. The first known case in the US dates back to January 19, 2020, in Washington State. The man had been on a trip to Wuhan, China and had apparently contracted the virus there.

President Trump ordered a ban on travel from China on January 31, but the virus could have been carried into the US by other passengers prior to the ban taking effect. The ban did not prohibit Americans from entering the country. Five airports had screenings were set up for Coronavirus at the time, but the focus was on visitors from China.

Does the Coronavirus only affect the elderly?

Eighty percent of Coronavirus deaths are people older than 60 according to the CDC. This group also accounts for 45 percent of hospitalizations.

The flip side is that more than half of cases requiring hospitalization are people younger than 60. Some of these cases are so serious that they require treatment in intensive care.

The very young can be infected with the virus but usually on have mild or moderate cases. They can still infect other high-risk people, though.

Even though the virus is most dangerous to seniors with pre-existing health problems, the virus is more dangerous than the flu for most age groups.

Coronavirus has been around for a long time. Why are we panicking about it now?

There is more than one type of Coronavirus. COVID-19 is a new strain that was discovered in 2019. That’s what the “19” means.

Are there multiple strains of Coronavirus?

There are two different types of COVID-19, but they are almost identical. WHO considers the virus to be a single strain. The differences could simply be the mutations caused in the virus as it adapted to its new host, humans.

Can you catch Coronavirus more than once?

Scientists believe that once a person survives the virus, they become immune to it. That could change if the virus mutates.

Should you avoid ibuprofen if you suspect you have COVID-19?

The latest evidence says that there is little evidence of risk with ibuprofen but experts say to be cautious.

Is Coronavirus a bioweapon?

The evidence points to a natural origin for Coronavirus. Analysis of virus genomes showed no evidence that the virus was the product of a laboratory.

The theory that China released a bioweapon on themselves doesn’t really make sense anyway. The Chinese economy is being heavily damaged by the virus, something that they would not do on purpose. If the release was accidental, the Chinese government would have responded much more quickly to contain the outbreak than they did.

Further, Coronavirus has a lower mortality rate than a virus used as a weapon would likely have. Why weaponize Coronavirus with a two percent mortality rate when you could use Ebola, which has a 90 percent death rate?

Isn’t this a hoax to hurt Trump?

Would entire nations lock down their populations and destroy their economies to try to keep Trump from being re-elected? If it is a hoax, then Trump is in on it at this point. Coronavirus is also not a plot to delay the election and keep Trump in power, to implement martial law, to poison Americans with a mandatory vaccine, or to implant microchips in unsuspecting people.

Remember that the most basic advice to avoid contracting or spreading the Coronavirus is simple:

  • Wash your hands carefully
  • Stay six feet away from other people
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands some more

Don’t panic and don’t fall for the fake news and conspiracy theories about COVID-19. As a nation, we will get through this if we keep our heads, wash our hands, and trust God to see us through.  

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