Fear of a pandemic from coronavirus continues. Yes, this is a real threat. This is not hoopla or media sensationalism. This is much ado about something. Now over 80,000 cases have been reported, the vast majority in China. 3% of those infected have died which is not a small number (especially if you know someone who has passed). The virus has been identified in Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Italy, and Iran. Those countries now have travel advisories from the CDC.
There are nearly 30 cases in the US, most of whom have traveled to an area with infection, on the Diamond Cruise ship from Japan, and some from person to person spread. There is an expectation that we will not be able to secure our borders from CoVID-19, as it’s called, forever. But we can try. We ought to follow strict travel advisories, practice quarantine protocols for those who have potential exposure, and prepare our social services.
The City of San Francisco has already declared a state of emergency to plan for an outbreak. I do not think that is a panic response, but rather a measured way to prepare for something we have not seen in our lifetime. If a pandemic does come to root, it will disrupt all aspects of societal gathering. It seems appropriate to prepare our public and private enterprises.
There is hope. The number of new reported cases in China has started to plateau. Recognition and wariness of the pandemic may allow better quarantine protocols that could slow the spread of the disease. While there is no data to expect this, wouldn’t it be nice if the warmer weather made the virus less able to spread. Either due to viral dynamics or due to people separating from such close quarters that cold weather enforces.
Bottom line: No need to panic. Need to prepare. Even if the preparation comes to naught, it will be a good exercise for the future.