Coronavirus belongs to the family of influenza viruses. We confront the ‘flu’ season every year. We have vaccines to prevent it and anti-viral drugs to treat it. Yet, there were about 30,000 deaths from influenza during the 2018-19 season. Now we face a new virus called Corona 2. This virus has lived in animals. It is new to the human body.
The first case originated from the Huanan Seafood Market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. This market sells many strange and wild animals, slaughtered under unhygienic conditions. The virus appears to have infected a human in December 2018. A Chinese physician, Li Wenliang, was the first to recognize this new viral disease in 2019. Instead of being honored, he was jailed for reporting “false information” and causing panic. Sadly, Dr. Li died of pneumonia, due to coronavirus, in February 2020.
United States began health checks on all travelers, coming from China, on Jan. 21, 2020. Four days later, a man in Washington State, who had recently returned from Wuhan, was found to be infected. Washington State and Federal authorities worked to contain spread.
Corona Virus Update March 20, 2020
(These numbers change daily)
Number of Cases
This virus spreads through contact with an infected person, exposure to cough or sneeze of and infected person, or virus contact from contaminated surfaces.
What We Can Do:
- Distance Ourselves from others in public, by at least six feet. In case we come across a person who is infected, we should be outside the range of their virus spray if they cough or sneeze.
- Wash our hands! Wash our hands! Use soap and water for 20 seconds, or use a sanitizer, to remove the virus that may get on our hands from surfaces and doorknobs we touch.
- Avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- 4. Clean and disinfect surfaces around us where the virus might settle: tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
- 5. Cough (or sneeze) in a tissue and facing away from people. I do not agree with the advice that we cough on our sleeve and greet others with elbow bumps! We must wash our hands after coughing.
- 6. Stay home if we are sick
- 7. Wear a facemask if we are sick.
CDC does not recommend that we wear facemask to protect ourselves unless caring for somebody sick.
- 8. Teach Children to take precautions depending on their age.
- 9. Older Adults with underlying conditions are more vulnerable and should be particularly careful.
Symptoms occur 2-14 days after exposure. Common symptoms aredry cough, fever, shortness of breath. A runny nose or sore throat may occur. Warning signs include difficulty in breathing, pain or pressure in chest, confusion, inability to arouse, bluish lips or face.
Testing is free and available for those with symptoms. It is best to call before going to a testing center so you can be screened over the phone. Testing requires a swab of the nose or throat. There was an in initial shortage of test kits but these are now more available. There are drive-through facilities in high demand areas. Results are available in a few days. Purpose of testing is to prevent spread of virus. Treatment of a patient is the same whether the test is positive or negative.
Those who are sick should stay home and separate themselves from family by staying in a sick room, if possible. They should be in touch with the doctor by phone. They should not go to public places or use public transportation because this will spread virus. Call the doctor’s office, emergency department or the clinic before you go so they can take precautions to avoid exposure of other patients and healthcare workers. The illness is mild in most healthy people. Hospitalization maybe needed in about one out of 10 cases.
Despite alarming media reports, I believe that our healthcare system is the best in the world. We have more hospital beds, Intensive Care beds and ventilators per capita than almost all other countries. Our industry can mobilize to manufacture respirators and we can improvise empty hotel rooms to hospital beds.
Effects on Our Lives
The Economic Impact of the coronavirus is going to be very severe. Loss of income for most families. Travel, hotel, restaurant, retail, manufacturing, education, sports, entertainment and almost all sectors of our economy are suffering. The financial markets are a measure of future economic activity and are in a major downturn. Presently there have been 228 cases of the corona virus in Tennessee but over 10,000 Tennesseans have applied for unemployment benefits! Fortunately, our unemployment security fund is over $1.1 B strong.
The Social Impact of less personal contact with friends, and office co-workers, lack of sports entertainment, absence of the bustling restaurant scene, closures of gyms can leave us feeling lonely and affect our mood and well-being.
The Stress of income loss, being confined to the home, caring for children out of school, concerns about their education, keeping the family engaged, possible interruptions in food and medical supplies and negative effects of the news media reports can cause personal difficulties.
Cancellation of church services is a deep loss at such times. But God is always with us!
What the Government Can Do
At the federal level, President Trump and the political parties do appear to be moving towards a package of economic assistance for individuals and businesses. Direct payments to citizens are expected within weeks. The State of Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee and the Legislature are also committed to help Tennesseans through this difficult time. On Thursday, March 19, 2020, our Legislative Session ended at 11:19 pm after passing a balanced State Budget!
We approved a $150M Health and Safety Fund for expenses related to coronavirus. We doubled the direct grants to cities and counties. We added $350M to our state rainy day fund to increase our readiness. We increased temporary payments for needy families to $1,000 per month. We added $30M to Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), in part for assistance in the recent tornado related tragedies.
The need for all these efforts did lead to decreases in other budgeted expenses including the mental health trust fund, state and teacher pay raises, rural assistance fund and grants to many causes. A planned cut in professional privilege tax was canceled. Difficult times call for difficult decisions. Certainly not everyone will be pleased.
This is also a time to remember that we should all have a personal rainy-day fund to be ready for times like these. Our state is financially well prepared. We have dedicated scientists and public servants. I have great faith in American ingenuity. With prayer and love for each other, we should overcome the challenges of this time. Let us join our Governor and leaders in prayer for our state and our nation. God Bless!
You can reach Rep. Sabi Kumar at: Rep.Sabi.Kumar@Capitol.tn.gov 615- 741-2860