Updated: Jul 24, 2020
On March 3, 2020, the CDC reported the first documented case of the coronavirus disease in North Carolina. The case occurred in Wake County after the patient traveled to Washington state, according to Governor Roy Cooper’s office. With this in mind, keeping the spread of information factual is important in limiting panic and keeping the population informed of safety measures, particularly on a small campus such as Meredith.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global risk of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak to be “very high,” which is its top level of risk assessment. Over 95% of COVID-19 cases are in China, with most occurring in the Hubei Province.
Over 1,848 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 48 countries across the globe, including Italy, the Republic of Korea, Iraq, Algeria, Austria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S., among many others. 80% of these cases are from the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Italy. Worldwide, around 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have resulted in death.
The United Nations (UN) recently released $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help contain COVID-19. This UN funding was given to the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to fund the operation of national laboratories to help monitor the spread of the virus.
In the U.S., nine people have died from the disease, all of which have been in the Seattle area. Over 115 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. in a dozen states. The U.S government has imposed limits on traveling to China, prohibited travel to Iran and has issued warnings about traveling to parts of Italy and South Korea.
As of Feb. 28, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has elevated the Travel Notice for Italy to a Level 3: Avoid Non-Essential Travel.
This is of particular concern to the Meredith Office of International Programs, since current and future study abroad programs are in some countries most affected by COVID-19. “Because of the increased occurrence of coronavirus in Italy, the Office of International Programs made the decision to cancel two graduate-level study abroad programs planned for April in Italy,” said Brooke Shurer and Liz Yaros, Director and Associate Director of International Programs; “The health and safety of our students and community members, including study abroad participants and faculty, are of paramount concern to Meredith College.”
of viruses that can cause illnesses, everything from the common cold to these more severe diseases like COVID-19. They are zoonotic, which means that they can be passed between animals and humans. The most recently discovered iteration is the coronavirus disease COVID-19. This strain and accompanying disease went unknown until the outbreak in Wuhan, China, which occurred in December 2019.
The most common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Most of these symptoms are mild and begin gradually. One in six people who contract COVID-19 become severely ill and have difficulty breathing. Around 80% of infected people recover without needing any special treatment. The eldery and people with underlying illnesses such as high blood pressure are more likely to develop a serious illness.
“One negative consequence of this outbreak is the painful stigma that some people have faced. In situations like this where information is changing rapidly, it is important for us to avoid making assumptions about others based on perceived identity or symptoms. As an example, there are cultural differences around wearing protective masks. In some countries, people regularly wear protective masks out of precaution, not because they are sick. This has not necessarily been the case in the U.S. and misunderstandings about these differences have led to harmful and unnecessary judgement. We must show empathy and respect for everyone in our community,” say Shurer and Yaros.
Studies are showing that the virus is spread via respiratory droplets, and that the main way the disease is being spread is by the respiratory droplets that are expelled by someone who is coughing. When a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, they can spread small droplets from their nose or mouth onto the objects and surfaces around them. Other people can then catch the illness by touching these surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
WHO advises people to stay at least three feet away from people that are sick. It is recommended to thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water to eliminate any viruses that may be present in your hands.
The incubation period for COVID-19 is most commonly around five days but can range from one day to two weeks. For people who have recently been in areas where the COVID-19 is spreading, they are advised to stay home if unwell and to seek medical advice if fever, cough or difficulty breathing develop.
By Milin Santizo-Escobar, Staff Writer