A couple wear masks as they embrace amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus on Valentine's Day in Hong Kong, China, February 14, 2020. (TYRONE SIU/REUTERS)

“2019 was not the best year for most people, and it was especially a bust for me. Overall, 2019 was disappointing. 2020 is a new year for me. New year, new decade.” -Literally every person who had a resolution that would not last this year

Yeah, I don’t think so. While the memes are funnier than ever, humans have experienced a rough start to the decade. Beginning with the possibility of WW3, the death of Kobe Bryant, the Australian wildfires, and most importantly, the coronavirus epidemic have all made for a rocky start. Everywhere in China, citizens are wearing masks to prevent exposure to this disease, as the toll reaches tens of thousands. Staged under quarantine, tourists and other affected people may not be able to travel back home. We don’t know if a cure exists. The world is beginning to see the effects of this pernicious disease.

What exactly is the coronavirus?

credit to livescience.com

Coronaviruses, which is a family of viruses, are common all across the world. This is a very specific strand of the virus called 2019-nCoV/COVID-19. It exhibits very similar symptoms to the flu. Symptoms can include excessive coughing and sneezing. The virus mainly comes from animals such as cats, cattle, and bats. It can spread through direct contact but mainly comes via the pathogens that hit a person when sneezing or coughing. Shortness of breath is common as well, and its ability to spread is not well known. While it may seem mild, it could very well spread easily, and according to CDC officials, it has not even “reached the peak of the iceberg.”

How has it affected people’s lives?

First of all, the virus has created a little more frenzy and distrust in the world right now, especially in China. We are starting to see deaths caused by the coronavirus along with rumors of it being spread here in Texas. Everyone is on edge for its impending spread, and preventive measures are being taken place. People who traveled to Hubei and the U.S. are under two-week quarantines, and citizens don’t want to get closer to contract the virus. Corona has even spread to Africa, having its first reported case. There have been some rumors of a cure, but scientists are not necessarily sure.

Enrique Marroquin ’21 thinks there is a cure to this disease, “While the coronavirus can spread easily, it’s not super lethal. This is just like the flu. While the flu is bad, it can be cured. There is a fear that it somehow mutates, and yet infections in children and infants are rare and mild. I think humans will be fine.”

credit to cdc.gov

However, it has also caused some unintended, inaccurate discrimination against Asian-Americans, who get absurdly blamed for “spreading the virus.” A boy in Southern California was unjustly attacked for “having the virus,” having to go to the emergency room for his injuries. The jokes are insensitive and completely out of place in the face of a serious outbreak.

Julian Garcia ‘21 voiced his thoughts on this unnecessary violence, “With all the panic going on, we don’t need to cause more harm by discriminating. The first step we need to take to defeat this virus is to help each other instead of hindering each other. If we can come together as one world, coronavirus will be a thing of the past.”

 What can we do to protect ourselves?

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the virus. Nevertheless, the CDC recommends that one should avoid being in close contact with sick people, and touching their eyes, ears, and mouth with unwashed hands. Be mindful of the impacts of you getting sick, and if necessary, take some rest. At the very least, obtain a flu vaccine, especially during this flu season. In these next days, consider the spread of disease, especially coronavirus, before you choose to not wash your hands while walking out of the restroom.

Emilio Rodriguez ‘21 remarked, “The coronavirus is a deadly epidemic, however, it can be easily cured. About as many people killed have also been cured. So far there is no need to panic and especially no reason to discriminate against Asian people out of fear of contracting the virus, as many racist people have.”

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