On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools announced that schools would be closing until April 6 as a mitigation measure against coronavirus. As community members adjust to this new reality, many are wondering more about coronavirus and how we got here.
On January 30, 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization called the Coronavirus (COVID-19) a “public health emergency of international concern.” All throughout the country schools are closing down and people are bracing for what could be the next pandemic.
The virus spreads from person-to-person. It can be spread between people who are close to each other (within six feet), through respiratory droplets released in the air through sneezes or coughs. If these droplets land in the mouth or nose of an individual they can quickly reach the lungs. While it’s not thought of being the main way it spreads, it may be possible for someone to get the virus from touching an object with the virus on it with their mouth, nose or eyes.
If someone has coronavirus they are most contagious when they are showing the most symptoms (excess coughing or sneezing), however, be cautious because spread can happen when someone is showing no symptoms at all.
In the US, there have been confirmed cases across dozens of states. The majority of deaths have come from an assisted living home in Washington state where an outbreak occurred. An up-to-date map for the coronavirus is available from Johns Hopkins University.
In addition to the virus spreading easily, it also has a higher mortality rate than the flu. According to a March 6 report from the World Health Organization, the crude mortality rate is between 3 and 4 percent.
Some of the best ways to prevent the virus may seem simple, but they are extremely effective. It is said that it’s best to follow the same procedures you follow to prevent the flu; this includes washing hands, avoiding contact with those who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes or nose or mouth, staying home when sick, covering your cough or sneeze and cleaning objects that are frequently touched.
As for the virus’s effect on us, the threat in North Carolina is increasing. The CHCCS school district sent out an email on February 27, 2020, about how they plan to respond to all of the commotion that has been occurring. The email addressed that every school nurse is promoting the use of vaccines, school-wide infection control measures, reporting diseases to the Orange County Health Department, teaching staff and students disease prevention and evaluating when a sick student is able to return to school.
As of Friday, March 13, 15 people in North Carolina have been confirmed to have coronavirus. As cases rise, be prepared, keep your hands washed and everything disinfected, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and follow CDC recommendations.