As panic rises over the spread of coronavirus to the U.S., Maryland residents have become worried following two potential cases of coronavirus in the state. One patient displaying symptoms that met the qualification to be tested for the virus has come back with negative test results. A second patient’s test results are currently pending, so it is currently unknown whether Maryland can declare a confirmed case.
The first patient to be tested is in good condition according to state officials, while the second patient remains in treatment while tests are pending.
Amidst the health scare, Annapolis and Rockville canceled their Lunar New Year Celebrations, directly impacting the local community. Furthermore, Maryland residents who have traveled to China recently may be placed in quarantine before being allowed to reenter.
“Someone my mom works with was in Hong Kong, but after they shut down everything, he was able to find a plane to Tokyo and then to Texas. From there, he made it to Virginia before he was stopped at the gates. He is now in quarantine,” said sophomore Peter Winstel.
The newest strain, Novel Coronavirus, was first found in Wuhan, China. Its spread has led to an outbreak; there are 31,552 cases and 638 deaths according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Thus far, there are 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 100 pending tests. Additionally, 25 tests have come back negative.
Coronavirus is a respiratory virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and even pneumonia. Usually, symptoms appear between two days and day weeks following exposure. Because the strain of the virus is so new, doctors are not yet certain of the best treatment and there is no cure.
To avoid exposure, the CDC and the MD Health Department suggest frequently washing hands with soap and water or alcohol, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and avoiding touching one’s eyes, mouth, ears, and face. Also, on a national basis, the CDC advised Americans to avoid nonessential travel to China to limit the possibility of exposure.
Naturally, having such a major health issue so close has made CHS students concerned.
“I think that’s honestly terrifying since there is a chance the virus is nearby,” said junior Simone Acquaye. “Since it’s been reported that it kills, I think it’s really scary to think that it’s a thing to worry about.”
Others find that the coronavirus emphasizes social issues, not just health issues.
“I understand that people are very concerned about the coronavirus but many people are being racist and xenophobic towards the country of China but in reality, the coronavirus does not kill any more people than the flu and it is not that concerning as people make it up to be,” said Thao Pham.
However, some people have found positives in the situation, noting that new medical research and innovations will occur.
“I am worried but I am not at the same time. If it means that the world will keep moving, then I guess this awful virus has helped us some, even if it hurt us along the way,” said junior Julia Ahrens.
In fact, this research is already occurring in Montgomery County itself. Novavax, a clinical-stage vaccine company located in Gaithersburg MD, has created a gene for the new virus. Creating this genome and constructing its proteins serves as one of the first steps in developing a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Inventing a vaccine for this virus would be revolutionary, saving hundreds of lives and preventing further outbreaks. Novavax employees report that they are working long hours seven days a week to create the vaccine as soon as possible, especially since they fear a potential second wave.
“I think it’s cool that anyone would be researching that to try and help because there is so much technology around the 270 area, said Martioski.
On the other hand, it is important to note that the coronavirus is much less common than the flu. The CDC reports that there are between nine and 45 million cases per year, along with between 12,000 and 65,000 fatal cases annually.
“I think to have all of a sudden this large population of people come up with this virus and die all of a sudden is what makes it scary. With the flu, we have had it for so long, and we have things in place to help people stay healthy, said Martioski. “It was the big sudden onset of the coronavirus that makes it scary.”
Additionally, the flu’s frequency has allowed it to become normalized.
“We have ways around the flu. Before flu shots, the flu was just as scary as the coronavirus,” said Ahrens.
Not only are labs taking initiative on the coronavirus, but the state of Maryland is working proactively against the coronavirus. In response to potential cases in Md. Governor Larry Hogan released a report stating that “the state is taking every precaution to prepare and mobilize whatever resources are necessary to address the coronavirus.”
Despite health concerns, there is hope.
“Yes, this will take people but humans are resilient,” said Ahrens.
Want more info on the status of the coronavirus in MD? Click here.