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Coronavirus Covid 19 in the United States Essay

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Abstract

In 1918, a Spanish flu pandemic infected more than one-third of the entire global population and claimed the lives of as many as 100 million people. Innovations in health care technologies during the remainder of the 20th century, however, succeeded in limiting the adverse effects of subsequent epidemics until now. The year 2020 will likewise go down in the history books, if there are any historians left to write them, as the beginning of a global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus which is the source of the Covid-19 disease.  The purpose of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the most recent information concerning the “what,” “when,” “where,” “how” and “who” of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, including the most up-to-date statistics and resources. Finally, the paper provides a summary of the research and key findings concerning these issues in the conclusion. 

Keywords: covid, covid-19, coronavirus, corona virus, wuhan china, 

Covid 19 in the United States:  Is Mother Earth Fighting Back?

Covid-19 has brought this nation to its knees. -- Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 22, 2020

The epigraph above may seem hyperbolic, but some observers caution that the worst is yet to come and the historical record provides some good reasons for this dismal assessment. Indeed, just over a century ago, the world was roiled by the Spanish flu pandemic that infected more than a half billion people -- representing nearly one-third of the earth’s population at the time, -- and claimed the lives of as many as 100 million victims. Today, the world is likewise confronted with another global pandemic that threatens to eclipse the grim figures racked up by the Spanish flu unless far more aggressive actions are taken by national leaders and the international community while the search for an effective vaccine continues. The purpose of this paper is to review the most recent information concerning the facts about the “what,” “when,” “where,” “how” and “who” of the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, followed by a summary of the research and key findings concerning these issues in the paper’s conclusion. 

What

Although researchers have confirmed that the current coronavirus is “novel” in terms of being unique, there are actually seven other coronaviruses which are capable of infecting humans that have been identified since the 1960s (Human coronavirus types, 2020).  Called “coronaviruses” because of their spiked crown-like surfaces, there are four primary sub-types of coronaviruses termed “alpha,” “beta,” “gamma,” and “delta” (Human coronavirus types, 2020).  The disease that is caused by the current novel coronavirus is called “Covid-19,” with the 19 designating the year (2019) in which it was first identified by epidemiologists. Despite a Manhattan Project-level research initiative into understanding the current coronavirus and its etiology, however, far more questions remains than answers as discussed further below. 

When

Although the coronavirus was not officially detected until December 2019, many scientists believe that the virus had already been circulating among human populations in China for several months by that time. What is known for certain is that the coronavirus has spread relentlessly throughout the United States and the original epicenter of the global pandemic has been traced to a wet market in Wuhan, China as discussed further below. 

Where

A so-called “wet market” (a marketplace that sells fish and animals as opposed to a “dry market” that specializes in dry grains and so forth) in Wuhan, China is frequently cited as the origin of the coronavirus. Because there is a biochemical laboratory located near Wuhan, there have also been theories advanced that the coronavirus either accidentally escaped from the lab or was intentionally released for nefarious purposes. Therefore, some people, including the current occupant of the Oval Office, insist on referring to the virus as the “China virus,” the “Wuhan virus” or even the xenophobic and racist “kung flu.” 

Researchers, though, have concluded that the novel coronavirus actually originated among wild animals and subsequently “superspread” to thousands of humans once it hit the crowded wet market in Wuhan (Coronavirus history, 2020).  In other words, like other highly virulent pathogens, coronavirus quickly migrated from its still-unknown initial point of origin around the globe in a matter of weeks, a process that has been facilitated by the relatively unfettered international travel and transportation industry. With tens of millions of people traveling internationally each year, the United States has recently experienced the humiliation of being banned (potentially as of this writing) from traveling to the European Union – and who is to blame them? As the events in China clearly demonstrated, Covid-19 is an ambitious virus that will seek out every opportunity to infect a human host, preferably one that will allow it to replicate and then transmit the infection to others. All in all, a very good business model for Covid-19, but deadly for tens of thousands of Americans.

An updated coronavirus map which depicts current global, national and state-level infection rates as well as other timely data is available from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html. In addition, a coronavirus map that is maintained by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically for the United States is available at https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html. A coronavirus map of the United States showing the reported number of cases by state at the time of this writing is provided in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Reported Covid-19 cases in the United States as of June 24, 2020

Source:  CDC (2020) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html

As can be readily discerned from the reported number of cases in the U.S. at present shown in Figure 1 above, virtually every state is currently experiencing some level of coronavirus infections, and at least half are suffering from significant surges following the relaxation of shelter in place orders weeks ago. More importantly, the data reflected in Figure 1 above are based on reported cases only, and a growing…

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…problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness” (Coronavirus overview, 2020, para. 3). 

While the health care consequences of Covid-19 are potentially severe and even deadly fir many Americans, there has also been an enormous corresponding economic impact caused by the pandemic. In fact, with tens of millions of Americans out of work with no real end in sight, the country is experiencing a major recession the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930s. Furthermore, many economists believe that the nation will not recover the economic losses suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic for years and perhaps even decades to come. In this regard, Weidinger (2020) emphasizes that, “Initial claims suggest that more than 11 million Americans are now on (or about to be on) state unemployment insurance benefits. That is already more than 50 percent greater than the prior national record of 6.6 million recorded in 2009 during the Great Recession” (p. 136). In other words, the Covid-19 disease affects all Americans to some extent (even if they do not realize it) and these effects are projected to become even more severe in the foreseeable future.

Taken together, the ongoing global pandemic has profound implications for everyone in the United States regardless of their socioeconomic status. Certainly, the rich always seem to manage to get richer no matter what, but this is a unique period in the republic’s history that is redefining what it means to be patriotic and what the American dream really means today. Like the historic statues that are being torn down across the country, the United States is also being forced to shake off the vestiges of its slave-owning past in favor of a more inclusive society that prizes ability and character over pigmentation.  

Conclusion

Today, billions of people around the world are scared – and for good reason. While many well-meaning but uninformed Americans continue to deny the reality of the coronavirus threat, there are clear indications that the disease is essentially out of control in many parts of the country and everyone is at risk. Indeed, there were nearly 40,000 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the United States on the day this paper was written, representing highest single-day increase to date. Consequently, it is even reasonable to conclude that eventually, like herpes and the common cold, virtually everyone will be infected by the Covid-19 disease. Unless and until an effective vaccine is developed, a coherent national strategy is desperately needed to contain and mitigate the devastating effects the Covid-19 disease can have on communities of all sizes irrespective of their geographical location. Indeed, some researchers have cautioned that an effective vaccine against the Covid-19 disease may never be developed. Moreover, the U.S. executive branch has been unwilling or unable to formulate a coherent national strategy, leaving the several states to manage the best they can in responding to the coronavirus threat.  In the final analysis,…


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