Do not minimize the deadly Covid-19 outbreak

07 Mar 2020 | 08:56

To the Editor:

I know that this epidemic seems surreal, but pretending Covid-19 is “just the flu” is what’s spreading the virus.

It’s not “just the flu.” It’s deadlier. It’s serious, and it has mutated. Health authorities have estimated between 40 to 80 percent of the world’s population will become infected with Covid-19. If you get it, you have a 15 to 20 percent chance of going to the hospital and being listed in serious condition, possibly on a ventilator, and you have a 3.4 percent chance of dying.

The fact that older people are at the greatest risk is of no comfort to me. Don’t we care that our parents and grandparents are at great risk? Are they “expendable?” Those who are approaching or in their middle age are also at great risk of dying if they have ”co-morbidities.” They include very common medical issues like high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, and type 2 diabetes. Although children rarely get symptoms from this virus, they can become “super spreaders” and infect their parents.

This virus spreads much more quickly than the seasonal flu. It’s estimated that a person with the flu will infect just one to two more people. If you have Covid-19, it’s estimated an infected person will spread it to six more people. The virus has mutated. The more aggressive and serious form can attack the kidneys, heart, and other vital organs as well as your nervous system and leave permanent damage.

Please do not minimize this disease. Washing your hands is a good start, but it won’t prevent you from getting it. What makes this virus so insidious is that someone can be infected and asymptomatic for up to four weeks, and be spreading the disease. You can catch it if you are within six feet of this person. Because it can be suspended in the air near an infected person, you can breathe it in or it can get in your eyes.

It lives on surfaces for up to 9 days. Hand sanitizer will only kill bacteria and a few select viruses. There’s no reliable data yet on whether it will kill this virus. Only soap and water is conclusively known to kill it after you’ve touched a surface. Social distancing and washing your hands is the only way to avoid this disease.

Chris Maurer

Sugar Loaf, N.Y.