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The current novel coronavirus is gripping most of the world, as governments, businesses, and every day individuals grapple with the pandemic outbreak.
In the U.S., certain local, state governments have declared state-lockdowns and stay-in-place quarantines — efforts geared at limiting the spread of COVID-19. Across the world, the number of confirmed cases is also on the rise. The U.S. has seen thousands of new cases in the past few weeks alone.
The race to find medical solutions continues as Latinos—who will experience some of the harshest impacts of COVID-19—and all Americans adjust to a life of working from home and practicing social distancing.
Original post published 3/5/20:
Late last year, a new virus began spreading throughout China — this illness, now known as COVID-19 (often called coronavirus), has spread throughout the world.
It is present on almost every continent, and the number of afflicted continues to rise, including Latinos and Hispanics. Still, while medical experts say the current coronavirus is a serious concern, they also note that it is something that can and will be managed with direct intervention.
“This epidemic can be pushed back but only with a coordinated and comprehensive approach that engages the entire machinery of government,” The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a recent press conference. “We’re calling on every country to act with speed, scale, and clear-minded determination.”
Here is everything you need to know.
What is Coronavirus and COVD-19?
COVID-19 actually stems from a class of viruses known as coronaviruses.
These pathogens can infect humans in numerous ways — from causing the common cold to creating a host of respiratory issues.
“Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people,” WHO states. “Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
As of March 29, 2020, the total number of confirmed cases worldwide has reached 720,000 with 142,000 of those cases in the US, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
How Can I Stay Safe amid Coronavirus?
Health officials are urging people to practice numerous safe, healthy habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs,” WHO states. “Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Moreover, the CDC recently published a guide that contains numerous resources on how individuals can take action in preventing COVID-19 spread in communities.
How Did the New Strain of Coronavirus All Start?
In December 2019, reports of a new virus began spreading throughout the globe.
In the following weeks, investigators discovered the illness likely started at a Chinese market, which was selling wild animals. As the disease continued to spread, countries began shutting down airports, closing schools, restricting travel, and declaring states of emergency.
What Are Latest Stats on Coronavirus?
The current data, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering:
- Total confirmed cases worldwide: 246,276
- Total confirmed cases in the US: 14,250
- Total recoveries: 86,036
- Total deaths: 10,038
Who Is Most at Risk of Coronavirus?
The elderly, those with weak immune systems, and individuals who are already sick face the most significant risk.
In contrast, those under the age of 70 have a greater potential to recover from the illness.
Children’s immune systems can fight against the disease well, also.
“Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties,” WHO states. “In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.”
How Is Coronavirus Impacting Inequities Facing Latino and Other Minorities?
Research show that communities of color, including Latinos, face a rampant and widespread lack of access to quality healthcare.
In this state of emergency that the U.S. faces with the outbreak of the current novel coronavirus, COVID-19, those disadvantages are worse than ever.
Disadvantaged groups currently, and will continue to, experience burdens in receiving, affording, and managing medical treatment as the virus continues to spread.
“Crises such as H1N1 and COVID-19 provide a mirror for our society and the actions we take — or fail to take,” writes Dr. Richard E. Besser, head of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in the Washington Post. “Today, the United States in that mirror is one in which the risk of exposure and the ability to protect oneself and one’s family depends on income, access to health care, and immigration status, among other factors.”
Who is Trying to Address Coronavirus Among Latino Populations?
Numerous civic leaders are attempting to bridge an information gap to the Latino community — specifically, states with high Latino populations, such as Florida.
“When it comes to matters of public health, it’s paramount that we reach all members of our community — and that includes our Spanish-speaking residents,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor told Florida Politics. “Tampa is such a diverse city, which is why it is critical that we communicate through bilingual messaging so that everyone has access to the information that they need to stay safe and stay informed.”
How Is Coronavirus Related to Immigration Issues?
For undocumented individuals, government officials and healthcare leaders are calling for an expansion of healthcare access and information.
“It’s important for undocumented people to feel like they deserve access to these services, especially if it comes to an outbreak,” Ismael Castro, a project manager at Building Healthy Communities in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, told NBC News.
However, the Trump administration is focusing its immigration efforts in another direction.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of homeland security and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, said border security issues could worsen the pandemic.
“When you are talking about a pandemic, and you have a border crisis … we do not have facilities that can quarantine tens, scores, hundreds, or thousands of people,” Cuccinelli said, according to The Daily Signal.
Immigrants, already facing a controversial new public charge rule, could face a more complex situation due to coronavirus.
“As the disease spreads around the continent, journalists and activists worry it could spell disaster for migrants waiting for immigration court hearings near the U.S.-Mexico border,” according to Latino USA.
How Is Coronavirus Related to Smoking?
COVID-19 brings about a host of respiratory issues.
That is important for people who smoke and vape, which compromises lung health. Researchers say it’s too early to know for sure if smokers are more susceptible, but it’s possible.
“We know that exposure to tobacco and tobacco products impairs our body’s ability to fight off infection,” Russel Buhr, a pulmonologist at UCLA Health, told Vice. “We want people to take [coronavirus prevention] seriously. So, people should really be listening to their doctors.”
Read more about the smoking-coronavirus connection.
How Can You Get Truth About Coronavirus?
The best way to stay up to date about the illness is by keeping up with the latest news out of the CDC.
You can follow the CDC on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Other ways include reading reports from reliable news sources, such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and others.
“Everyone can do their part to help us respond to this emerging public health threat,” according to the CDC. “It’s currently flu and respiratory disease season and CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and taking flu antivirals if prescribed.”
What Can You Do to Promote Healthy Environments Where You Live?
Get a “Health Equity Report Card” for Your Area!
Select your county name and get a customized Health Equity Report Card by Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. You will see how your area stacks up in housing, transit, poverty, health care, healthy food, and other health equity issues compared to the rest of your state and nation.
You can email your Health Equity Report Card, share it on social media, and use it to make the case for community change to boost health equity.