In December of 2019, Wuhan – a Northeast province of China – reported a number of “unusual pneumonia” cases spreading throughout the area. With a growing number of sick individuals, scientists became suspicious. After running microscopic tests, experts determined this was a new strain of virus that had never been seen before. Near the end of January, both the World Health Organization called this a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the Health and Human Services department in the United States declared a Public Health Emergency. Relatively little is known about this disease. Scientists have determined this is a zoonotic virus, meaning animals and humans can both get and transfer strains of this deadly disease. The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)thought to have a 14 day incubation period – the maximum time it takes for symptoms to show up – shares symptoms with the common cold and flu. Furthermore, scientists are uncertain as to when an individual can infect others. This virus is both airborne and can be exchanged via bodily fluids, allowing it to spread more easily.
COVID-19 has effects well beyond people’s health – it also affects international cash flow. A variety of consumer goods, such as iPhones, are produced in China, but due to COVID-19 many factories in China are shut down or operating well below capacity. With business activity down, the United States stock market has lost over 5,000 points, a decline of around 17%. On February 21st the Dow Jones was at 28,992 and March 13th saw the closing price at 23,185. Similarly, Russia’s international stock dropped 6% and France, Britain, and Japan all dropped 3%. In the U.S, the work force may be limited with many workers asked to stay home – slowing down the efficiency of a company’s production. Factory workers can’t work from home – in such cases productions will be completely stopped. If companies can’t produce – there will be less value left in their stock, and right now companies can’t produce.
This disease has been deadly since the beginning. On January 9th the first person reported with this virus was killed in China. On February 29th, the first person in the U.S succumbed to the symptoms of the COVID-19. Over the last two months the disease has spread to all continents except Antarctica. The public panic is real. The White House has warned people to stay calm, maintaining that the average American has a low risk of getting the virus. Nevertheless people are stocking up on supplies. Nationwide hand sanitizers are either being sold out or the remaining supplies being price gouged. Facemasks are also difficult to buy at this time due to the public health concern. Domestic entertainment businesses will be impacted by a lack of people willing to venture outside the safety of the home. At the same time vacations are being cancelled due to COVID-19 fears. With Spring and Summer breaks approaching – the time when families spend the most on travel – the travel industry will surely lose a lot of money.
The United States is discouraging travel to anywhere outside the U.S. On February 29th, President Trump banned travel to and from Iran and placed warnings on parts of Italy and South Korea. California recently discovered the COVID-19 can spread within communities – which leads to an even scarier situation for residents around the world. According to this discovery, the COVID-19 can spread anywhere in public: political rallies, public transportation, or grocery stores. This finding has not been confirmed anywhere else, but if true it could be deadly. Schools have began to close around the world – Japan is the first nation to close all its schools in response to the threat of the COVID-19. Closing all the schools in the United States could set a precedent. Schools were not even closed on 9/11.
In 2003 the deadly SARS virus – also from China – spread internationally costing $40 billion in lost sales. A vaccine for the COVID-19 is not expected to be ready for some time, so it is important to remain safe by carefully washing your hands and taking other reasonable precautions.