By Lorraine DiSano
The new coronavirus has become a major topic of discussion and was recently declared a global pandemic. However, what is this disease really? In general, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large group of viruses that can range anywhere from a common cold to very severe diseases, such as SARS. However, a new strain of coronavirus has recently been detected in China. This virus is called SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes is known as COVID-19. This virus has sent the world into a panic because it has spread at an alarming rate; about 90 locations internationally have already detected the presence of this strain.
Coronavirus has already affected many people globally. As of right now, China and Europe (especially Italy) have the largest number of cases. In mainland China in particular, plenty of families are stuck in their homes because of a government-ordered quarantine. Additionally, Italy has taken extra precautions to contain the disease and has closed large sections of the country’s north by placing over 16 million people (¼ of the country’s population) under lockdown. However, the coronavirus is not merely an international issue. In fact, the coronavirus has recently spread to the US. New York has 212 confirmed cases of the virus with at least 121 of these cases in Westchester County, and the numbers seem to grow daily. As a result, there is a multitude of people who are so scared that they have quarantined themselves in their homes, leaving more than 2,773 New Yorkers isolated from the outside world. Furthermore, the coronavirus has caused great strains on the healthcare system in the U.S. As junior Lizzie Manowitz explains, “A major concern is that most of the medicine in the world is manufactured in China, and the US has not made antibiotics since the 70s, so they can’t get any of the medicine from China because of the Coronavirus. It is scary because some hospitals are already experiencing shortages.”
There are many precautions that one can take to stay safe, including staying home if any signs of sickness arise, temporarily closing down schools and businesses, quarantining certain areas, etc. At Byram Hills High School, many precautions have already been taken. For instance, the school has ordered deep cleaning around the school to ensure that the rooms are disinfected. In every bathroom, there are now signs telling kids how to wash their hands properly. Additionally, school trips are being cancelled, such as the Disney trip for our athletes and musicians during Spring break. Furthermore, club events are being postponed because they are trying to limit the amount of contact students have with other people. The school district has also held meetings with teachers on a continuity plan, preparing the staff for what would happen if the school were to be shut down for a couple of weeks, as we have seen in many neighboring districts.
As of March 11, Byram Hills High School has decided to close down on Thursday, March 12. This is because a Wampus teacher’s husband was in contact with someone who has been tested positive for the coronavirus. Currently, neither the teacher nor her husband are showing any symptoms of the virus. However, our district’s schools are using both Thursday and Friday to make sure the classrooms are extensively cleaned.
In addition to local impacts, the coronavirus has resulted in a widespread economic contraction, which some argue could be the start of a recession. The panic and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has motivated many people to pull out their stocks, creating a large sell off, which has negatively impacted countless industries and markets globally. Ultimately, the stock market is faring into bear market territory, which means that the prices of securities are falling by more than 20% amid widespread negative investor sentiment and fear.
As of right now, it remains unclear what the future holds in terms of the spread of the coronavirus and the world’s reaction to it. In the meantime, all we can do is live our lives as per usual, while being intelligently cautious and washing our hands regularly to ensure that we stay as clean as possible.
All the nations that have cases of COVID-19