What Do We Really Know About Coronavirus?

Olivia Rondeau Contributor
Font Size:

As the number of cases rises exponentially, many Americans are wondering how they will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are getting conflicting answers from news outlets, medical organizations, politicians and each other.

What is the mortality rate of the novel coronavirus? How long will this global health crisis last? What may put one at risk to contract the virus, and what can be done to protect one’s self? Different experts and media outlets are constantly contradicting each other, making it difficult for concerned readers and viewers to find the truth. (RELATED: ‘Printing Money’: Chinese Manufacturers Are Profiting From Coronavirus Pandemic)

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) during a House Appropriations Committee budget hearing, the mortality rate is about 2%:

If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities in China, and you just do the math, the math is about 2%. If you look at certain age groups, certain risk groups, the fatality is much higher. But as a group it’s going to depend completely on what the factor of asymptotic cases are. So if you have asymptotic cases that are a lot, it’s going to come down.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the global mortality rate for coronavirus is 3.4%, which is significantly higher than Dr. Fauci’s claim. In response to the discrepancy, Fauci said to CNN on March 3rd “What we’re hearing right now, on a recent call from the WHO this morning is that there aren’t as many asymptotic cases as we think. Which made them elevate, I think, what their mortality is.”

This isn’t the only instance of differentiating claims about important aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak. As the amount of governors issuing stay-at-home orders for their states increases rapidly, there have been differing implications as to how long this pandemic will impact the U.S. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Coronavirus Expert Says Virus Could Have Leaked From Wuhan Lab)

For example, Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has given direction for residents to stay at home unless they are an essential worker or doing essential business, with no announced end date. “This is a deadly public health crisis—we are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home, we are directing them to do so,” said Governor Hogan during a press conference on Monday. The announcement caused some confusion as Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order in the neighboring state of Virginia listed June 10th as the end date, according to NBC. The Virginian-Pilot reporter Peter Coutu shared a comparison between several states’ decisions on Twitter, showing the confusion surrounding the differences.

A common misconception about the dangers of COVID-19 is that it allegedly doesn’t affect younger people 40 and below. An odd pattern of social media posts made by younger people claiming that they won’t be impacted by the deadly disease has taken the internet by storm, with disastrous results. 21-year-old Tennessee woman Ireland Tate recently posted a video to her social media, stating her confidence that she didn’t need to take precautions to avoid the coronavirus.

“So, I’m aware that we’re supposed to be self-quarantining and social distancing all these things to keep everyone safe. Cool. I get it. I just don’t think that I’m going to get the virus.”

Unfortunately for Tate, just days later she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Dr. James Hildreth, member of Nashville’s Coronavirus Task Force, commented to FOX 17 Nashville on the issue of young people believing that they are safe from the virus.

“There are still those who only believe that the virus affects those who are elderly and with underlying conditions. That’s clearly not the case,” Hildreth said.

Tate told FOX 17 that she and her friends ignored the calls for social distancing from politicians. She attended a party at a friend’s home with 20 people in attendance — twice the suggested limit to effectively protect one’s self from infection. In addition, the group went out into public, also against suggestion. Tate ended up contracting the illness from one of her friends who also tested positive.

A woman wearing a protective mask carries a pug dog. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

According to both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the WHO, wearing face masks or respirators in public to deter infection is ineffective. In the FAQ section of the Coronavirus 2019 page of the CDC’s web site, the following statement is posted.

“CDC does not recommend the routine use of respirators outside of workplace settings (in the community).”

The WHO aid “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.” (RELATED: Facemasks Won’t Protect From Coronavirus, Says CDC And WHO)

However, media outlets such as The Boston Globe have published pieces making the case for masks, citing that if mask-wearing became a social norm, people would take the outbreak more seriously and develop better defensive habits.

Claims like “Masks are the best way to enforce the ‘do not touch your face’ mantra we are hearing about for COVID-19,” and “Wearing masks is a powerful signal to others that these are not normal times, and that we all need to change our behaviors to stop a potentially devastating epidemic,” are emphasized in the article, which is titled Guidance against wearing masks for the coronavirus is wrong – you should cover your face.

With seemingly endless examples of contradiction as to who will be impacted by the virus, when it will be over, how to protect yourself and how dangerous it is, it is becoming difficult to foresee the complete effects of this pandemic.